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SEALS 2020 and Covid-19

Updated 5/4/20

Dear Deans, Program Committee Members and SEALS Friends,

I hope that everyone is staying safe during this pandemic, and that you are surviving as best you can.

The Covid-19 situation presents a special problem for the upcoming SEALS meeting.  Even if we receive the “all clear” for a late July meeting, which is far from certain, there are lots of reasons why our normal attendees might find it difficult to actually attend our meeting. Some have compromised immune systems which would make it difficult or dangerous for them to attend.  Some law schools are prohibiting all travel, and some member schools are facing extremely difficult budgetary problems.

SEALS is in the process of determining how best to move forward to this year. My personal sense is that it would be a shame if SEALS does not go forward in some form, and that may have to be online, or in a hybrid format (partially in-person, partially online). We have a number of programs that are particularly relevant to the present times. For example, Jon Garon (Nova) has put together an entire workshop on distance education, and a number of our sponsors are also providing insight into their distance learning technologies. In addition, we have lots of other worthwhile programs, including the Newer Professors Workshop (extensive information about teaching, scholarship and service for those new to the academy), the New Scholars Workshop (which allows young scholars to present a work in progress and receive feedback), our prospectives workshop (essentially, a boot camp for individuals who are preparing to go on the academic job market during the coming year), and the “aspiring” workshop (for individuals who are contemplating pursuing an academic path). In addition, there is lots of substantive programming.

I am in the process of reaching out to SEALS’ sponsors.  Those that I have spoken to thus far are extremely supportive. They have indicative that they will continue to provide financial support, and will send representatives if all or part of the meeting goes forward in-person.

So, please bear with us.  I am meeting with SEALS committees this week and the Board of Trustees will meet a week from Monday. I am also obtaining a copy of the Marriott’s new social distancing guidelines for conferences. Hopefully, by the time the Board meets in a little over a week, we will be close to making a decision. For your information, since nobody can predict the course of the pandemic, SEALS’ Board has extended the penalty-free cancellation deadline for registration refunds until July 1st.

In the meantime, please stay safe!

Russell L. Weaver
Professor of Law & Distinguished University Scholar
University of Louisville
Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Original Message

Dear Deans, Program Committee members and SEALS friends,

First, and foremost, I hope that everyone is staying well and adjusting to the new normal in legal education (with all classes being taught online).

Second, I want to let you know that SEALS Board of Trustees is meeting regularly to assess how to move forward on this summer’s meeting. At this point, the situation is uncertain and no decision has been made. However, the Board is meeting regularly and constantly assessing/reassessing the situation. As the situation becomes clearer, we will be making further announcements.

Third, I also want to let you know that, in order to ensure that no attendee is placed in a difficult situation, SEALS has moved the registration cancellation date back to July 1st. In other words, you can cancel your registration and receive a full refund through July 1st. Hopefully, by that time, we will be able to more accurately assess whether our meeting will go forward and in what form.

In the meantime, please stay safe!

Russell L. Weaver
Professor of Law & Distinguished University Scholar
University of Louisville
Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

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