Symposium on Law for the Next Pandemic

We are pleased to announce the 2020 University of Chicago Legal Forum symposium on “Law for the Next Pandemic.”  The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first global health crisis of our lifetimes:  AIDS, SARS, H1N1, Ebola, and MERS all came before it.  Nor will it be the last:  as habitat loss forces wildlife and humans to interact, the incidence of pathogenic crossover will rise; drug-resistant bacteria continue to evolve; and insect-borne diseases like Zika will migrate to new populations as climate change progresses. While physicians and public health experts collaborate to provide preventative and therapeutic solutions, legal scholars should assess the performance of our institutions during this pandemic to envision ways law can better prepare us for the next pandemic.

In examining the effects of the pandemic on the law, we hope to clear away doctrines and rules which have outlived their usefulness.  In looking forward, we hope to propose remedies where current law is deficient.  And, in doing both, we hope to help policymakers focus their time and energy during the next pandemic to where it is needed most.

The symposium will feature conversations on what lessons can be carried forward to the next pandemic.  The Legal Forum invites authors exploring this and related topics to submit proposals for papers.  A proposal may be as short as a two-page précis or as long as a full draft.  Selected proposals will be developed into abstracts of roughly 2,500 words for presentation at the Legal Forum’s annual Symposium tentatively scheduled for November 6, 2020.  Once authors have incorporated feedback from the panels and brought the papers to no less than 5,000 words, we plan to publish the final versions in the 2021 Volume of the Legal Forum.  The Legal Forum is happy to consider for online publication essays and reviews which do not conform to the length expectations for print publication.  Strong proposals will skew heavily towards prospective developments rather than retrospective critiques.

On the advice of public health authorities and in consultation with Law School and University administration, this year’s Symposium will be conducted virtually for non-local participants on November 6, 2020.

Proposals should be submitted via Scholastica (preferred) or to Daniel Simon at no later than July 5, 2020.  Inquires may be directed to Mr. Simon as well.  The organizer’s decisions will be communicated on a rolling basis, but no later than August 7, 2020.  Please clearly note requests for expedited consideration. 

For more information, please contact Daniel Simon ( or Megan Delurey (