In Disasters and the Law: Katrina and Beyond, co-authors Professors Daniel A. Farber and Jim Chen do more than examine the legal process in disaster response and reconstruction. They offer a provocative analysis of several recent catastrophic events—Hurricane Andrew, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Loma Prieta earthquake—and set the stage for the emerging field of disaster law. Published on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Chen says the book is “a grim reminder that human and natural threats persist.”
Katrina and Beyond demonstrates serious gaps in the legal system and its ability to respond to events of magnitude, and presents an argument for innovative policies to help society deal effectively with the aftermath of large-scale disasters and the risk of future ones.
Farber, director of Boalt’s Environmental Law Program, and University of Minnesota Law School Professor Chen seek to inspire a new field among legal scholars, lawyers and law schools. Farber explains, “Disaster law is about assembling the best portfolio of legal rules to deal with catastrophic risks—a portfolio that includes prevention, emergency response, compensation and rebuilding strategies. Because of this unifying theme, we think that the topic is deserving of serious law school attention even beyond its newsworthy qualities.”
Farber, who taught one of the nation’s first disaster law courses in spring 2006, is continuing to create new resources for the field. He is currently editing a symposium on catastrophic risk for Boalt’s online journal, Issues in Legal Scholarship and working with an American Bar Association task force to develop recommendations for legal reforms relating to catastrophic issues. Farber is also a regular contributor to Jurisdynamics, a blog that deals partly with disaster issues.