With Hurricane Sandy walloping the Eastern Sea Board, it speaks of our technological triumph – Man over Nature – that many law offices have been able to maintain working operations. With the possibility of working from home in the suburbs on a computer, or from a coffee shop with a laptop, the closing of a downtown office need not mean a law office is completely closed for business.
For instance, The New York Law Journal reports that Janice Mac Avov, of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver, & Jacobson, whose office is near State Island Ferry in Zone A, and which has been ordered to be evacuated, did not have to give up working.
“There is likely to be some damage to the building [at the New York office] given the fact that we are on the water and the storm is supposed to be as high as 8-10 feet, but no one seems to be worried about lasting damage,” she said in an email.
But the firm set up remote secretarial coverage “including enlisting our London office. Given the easy availability of remote access, it shouldn’t be a huge issue for us, although if the power goes out in the suburbs, it will make things more interesting.”
She herself worked remotely and regarded it as a mostly typical work day.
And so working has become a bit “u-topic” or non-geographical, where with a distribution of workers globally, no local storm, flooding, or even a hemisphere-bashing hurricane can stop business as usual.
Charles Platt of New York City’s Wilmer Culter Pickering Hale and Dorr said that “Most folks are assuming we’ll get our essential work done,” expectations that would sound incredible at any other time in history.
As Platt says, “All firms have extensive back up and recovery systems that are designed to prevent any problems in the event of a storm.”
And for those firms that do regional work, their clients are usually struggling with the same problems they are. Ronald Shechtman, a managing partner of Pryor Cashman, whose office at Times Square was closed, said “Remote access allows us to communicate like this and most of my firm to deal with pressing matters. Being a regional firm, however, means that most of our clients are in the same boat: their offices closed and most activities suspended. So it’s crisis control and management for our clients, until we see where this natural disaster will take us.”