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Hurricane Sandy Forces Court, Firm Closures

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

Hurricane Sandy lashed the East Coast with ferocious winds and torrential rain. As the storm causes delays in the justice system, law firm business may take an indirect hit.

The U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments Monday morning as most of the nation's capital shut down, closed for business at 2 p.m., according to The Washington Post. Arguments set for Tuesday will now be heard Thursday. It's not yet clear if Wednesday's arguments will also be rescheduled.

As far as lower courts are concerned, most federal and state courts across the eastern seaboard were closed Monday and will remain closed Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Some big-name East Coast law firms have already closed their offices because of the storm, ABA Journal reports. Many law firms have come up with storm-related contingency plans, while others are already looking ahead to Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.

For example:

  • Nixon Peabody in Boston is having its lawyers work from home while a skeleton crew keeps its offices open, the Boston Business Journal reported.
  • The Weiser Law Firm closed its Pennsylvania office and planned for computer server outages; its California office was set to handle any pressing needs from clients, according to ABA Journal.
  • Two law firms in Florida and Texas have already bought multiple Internet domain names related to Hurricane Sandy, perhaps in anticipation of damages claims and lawsuits.

Lawyers in the path of the storm should try to keep their clients apprised about how Hurricane Sandy may affect their cases, especially as new dates and deadlines are concerned. You’ll also want to reschedule deposition dates with opposing counsel, court reporters, and videographers.

It may also be prudent to post a notice about storm-related closures on your firm’s website. Another good idea is to send notices via email and social media, depending on how you usually communicate with clients and vendors.

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