Business of Law

All Shook Up By Quake, Courts and Law Firms Evacuate; Cozen Partner Welcomes Break in Park


An earthquake in Virginia this afternoon closed some courts and law firms there and in Washington, D.C., and was felt in New York, Boston, Maine and Canada as far north as Toronto, as well as North Carolina. However, there were no reports of serious injuries.

The 5.8 magnitude temblor closed all Washington federal courts and most local courts for the day, the Blog of Legal Times reports.

A number of law firms were evacuated, as well as the White House, the Capitol and the Pentagon, and a Covington & Burling spokeswoman tells the BLT that it closed for the day. Other law firms evacuated and allowed staff to go home but remained open after the quake.

In Virginia, courts and law firms also were cleared out by the quake, but most seem to have reopened, according to the VLW Blog.

The quake is the biggest in Virginia since 1897, Reuters reports, and was felt strongly because it was near the surface of the earth. An Associated Press article says the quake is the worst on the East Coast since 1944 and describes its effect on other major cities.

Partner Doug Rucker of Sands Anderson had a bit of a wild ride as his firm’s 24th floor offices in Richmond swayed in a “pretty amazing” manner. However, only the firm’s Fredericksburg office was significantly damaged, and it was emptied until a structure engineer could inspect it for safety, the VLW Blog recounts.

In the nation’s capital, Cozen O’Connor partner Bernie Grimm told the BLT he was delighted to have an opportunity to take a break from reading a tedious U.S. Supreme Court opinion and spend an hour in Farragut Park on a glorious day.

“Unfortunately, when I came back, the opinion was still on my desk,” he notes.

Last updated at 7:40 p.m. to include information from Associated Press.

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