Posted by: Ray Brescia | January 15, 2021

New (and Timely) Book: “Crisis Lawyering”

Crisis situations, from the pandemic and climate-change-fueled natural disasters to anti-democratic violence, seem to be happening with greater intensity, frequency, and force.  At the center of many of these crises are lawyers. From Guantánamo to Ferguson, the Trump Travel Ban to Election Day, lawyers often play critical roles in addressing and finding a way out of or through a given crisis.  A new book that NYU Press will publish in February, Crisis Lawyering: Effective Legal Advocacy in Emergency Situations is available now for pre-order at this link. It provides first-person accounts of lawyers dealing with these sorts of crises and more, offering key insights, strategies, and tactics to lawyers who have to deal with a range of crisis situations on a regular basis in their work, or even those who want to know how to prepare for the next crisis, no matter its source.  It’s also a great read!  It was my great honor, together with Eric K. Stern, to edit this work.  The full list of contributors and chapters is below.  Use the discount code CRISIS30 through the NYU Press website to obtain a 30% discount!

Ray Brescia and Eric K. Stern

Introduction: Lawyers as Problem-Solvers in Crisis

Part I: Beyond the Familiar and the Imperative of Creativity

Caroline Bettinger-López: A Client’s Crisis Becomes a Legal Crisis: A Domestic Violence Ruling Goes Global

Baher Azmy: Crisis Lawyering in a Lawless Space: Reflections on Nearly Two Decades of Representing Guantánamo Detainees

Christy E. Lopez: Responding to the (Dual) Policing Crisis in Ferguson

David E. McCraw: When Crisis Comes to the Newsroom: The Media Lawyer in a Time of Global Unrest

Lee Wang: Crisis in the Courts: The Campaign to Get ICE Out of New York State Courts

Sarah Rogerson: Preparation, Crisis, Struggle, Ideas: The Birth of the Detention Outreach Project

Part II: Crisis and Systemic Contexts

John Travis Marshall: Key Considerations for Lawyers Shepherding Communities Through Long- Term Recovery from Major Disasters

Eleanor Stein: Judging and Mediating for the “Long Emergency”:  Superstorm Sandy, New York State’s Regulatory Response to the Climate Change Crisis, and Reforming the Energy Vision

Richard Pinner: Litigation for the Homeless in the 1980s: A Look Back

Carmen Huertas- Noble, Missy Risser- Lovings, and Christopher Adams: Scaling Worker Cooperatives as an Economic Justice Tool for Communities in Crises

David S. Turetsky: The Crisis Comes Once a Year: Lawyering on Election Day

Part III: Beyond Borders and Silos

Brian Wilson and Nora Johnson: Bordering on Crisis: Overcoming Multiagency Crisis Coordination Challenges

Eric K. Stern, Brad Kieserman, Torkel Schlegel, Per- Åke Mårtensson, and Ella Carlberg:

Legal Advice in Crisis Training for Government Lawyers:  Perspectives from the United States and Sweden

Part IV: Educating and Skill- Building 

Muneer I. Ahmad and Michael J. Wishnie: Call Air Traffic Control! Confronting Crisis as Lawyers and Teachers

Scott Westfahl: Leveraging Lawyers’ Strengths and Training Them to Support Team Problem- Solving Under Crisis Conditions

Jay Sullivan: Stay Calm and Carry On: How to Stay on Point When in a Crisis

Ray Brescia and Eric K. Stern: Conclusion


  1. I’ve had the pleasure, usually, of working with lawyers handling crises during my 45-years as a journalist and crisis and litigation PR counselor and I very much look forward to seeing this topic dissected from a fulsome legal perspective. Many attorneys have the education to deal with crisis but a relative few have the bedside manner, personality and imagination to handle the rapidly shifting sands of a crisis, especially a high profile bet-the-business disaster. This book is a much need guidepost, I’m eager to read it.
    Scott Sobel

  2. […] on Guantánamo, the preparation of the DOJ’s Ferguson Report and so much more.  Check out the list of contributors here and download the introductory chapter here.  Go to NYU Press and enter CRISIS30 for a 30% […]

  3. […] impressive chapter/author list is available here and the introduction is available for download on SSRN here.  As you will see, a number of the […]

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