Law Firms

Earthquake Interruption Is Short-Lived, as Lawyers Prepare for Work Today


Courts and law firms in Washington, D.C., are preparing to open today after yesterday’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered in Virginia was felt across the East Coast.

Managers and lawyers at several major law firms in Washington, D.C., told the National Law Journal they expected to be back at work today. Local and federal courts were also expected to be open.

Some federal buildings, however, will be closed today to allow for inspections, according to the Washington Post’s Breaking News Blog. Closures included some buildings in the Nebraska Avenue complex of the Department of Homeland Security and the headquarters for the Department of the Interior. Federal employees in the D.C. area whose buildings are open are being allowed to take leave or work from home.

Yesterday, the earthquake closed all Washington federal courts and most local courts. Department of Justice employees left their building, but were back at work within about 20 minutes, a Justice Department spokeswoman told the NLJ. Several law firms temporarily evacuated their employees and allowed staff to go home after reopening.

In New York, some state court buildings were evacuated, according to Thomson Reuters News & Insight. Some federal courthouses were also temporarily cleared. “At the state and federal courthouses in lower Manhattan, hundreds of people gathered on the sidewalks,” Thomson Reuters says. “Brides in wedding dresses, their ceremonies put on hold, stood alongside their grooms and attendants, while handcuffed defendants waited in the street under the watchful eyes of court officers.”

The earthquake also interrupted a news conference by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who was planning to explain the dismissal of charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “All Shook Up By Quake, Courts and Law Firms Evacuate; Cozen Partner Welcomes Break in Park”

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