Around the Blawgosphere: Legal Bloggers on the Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

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Hurricane Sandy has had a tremendous impact on the week’s events for those who were caught in its path or worried from afar about loved ones living in affected areas. Updates about the storm also dominated the news feeds of the rest of the nation. This week, we’re focusing on what the legal blogosphere had to say about Sandy, beyond noting that they are keeping victims of the devastating storm in their thoughts.

Above the Law: Blog editor Elie Mystal suggested to BigLaw’s powers-that-be that they distribute bonuses early this year. “This year all the secretaries and paralegals who are being asked to come in and work under unreasonable circumstances should share in the massive profits generated by their firms,” he wrote. “And while managing partners and executive committees are just as susceptible to the ravages of Hurricane Sandy as anybody else, it shouldn’t be too hard to get all the decision makers on the phone for a quick bonus conversation. Remember, folks, the bonus money has already been budgeted.”

Real Lawyers Have Blogs: LexBlog’s Kevin O’Keefe noted that Twitter was more or less his news source about the storm. “I got firsthand reports from people all along the coast through advanced Twitter search using the location field. I could see firsthand pictures of the storm and its damage by running a Twitter search for #Sandy and Instagram. If I turned on CNN, I got the same reports and pictures. CNN was following Twitter just like me. If CNN did not, they simply could not compete with social media on coverage. … After following the storm on Twitter, I found television coverage far inferior. TV reporters and newscasters looked a bit like entertainers, looking for a sensational shot from where they placed somebody, whether the location was newsworthy or not.”

FMLA Insights: Jeff Nowak, a partner at Franczek Radelet in Chicago, notes that the Family and Medical Leave Act doesn’t require employers to give their workers time off for personal matters arising from a natural disaster “such as cleaning a flood-damaged basement, salvaging belongings, or searching for missing relatives.” But a worker who suffers an injury as a result of a natural disaster or has to care for a family member who was injured would qualify for FMLA leave time.

The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times took note of how the trend of allowing “teleworking” among federal employees ended up being advantageous during the storm. “Given the pre-election timing of the storm, it’s also fortunate that 49 percent of employees at the Federal Election Commission telework,” the blog said. Two-thirds of employees of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office telecommute at least one day per week, while the BLT reports that as far as telecommuting, the Justice Department is at the bottom of the list with only 2 percent of its employees telecommuting as of September 2011.

Immigration Prof Blog: University of California, Davis, School of Law professor Kevin Dean noted what he considered “a bit of good news.” A Department of Homeland Security memo from last Friday stated “there will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to Sandy, including the use of checkpoints for immigration purposes in impacted areas during an evacuation.”

Jonathan Turley: After noting reports—here’s one from CNN—that Sandy was engineered by Iran to attack the United States, the George Washington University Law School professor noted that he and his wife were at first stranded in New Orleans and then faced with a blizzard in transit to their D.C.-area home. “We slammed right into the bizarre hurricane-generated blizzard,” he wrote. “Visibility went to zero, and we were barely able to get off the road. However, we were able to push on in the morning and make it home. We did not even have to crack into our survival kit of Moon Pies bought in Alabama (large boxes of Moon Pies are hard to find in McLean[, Va.]). It was quite an adventure, but 1,100 miles later, we made it as the storm was still dissipating.”

Ride the Lightning: Sensei Enterprises President Sharon Nelson noted that Sandy has made her appreciate that she stores her data in the cloud. “As many readers are aware, I was a ‘cloud curmudgeon’ for a very long time, wary of the security risks in the cloud, especially for lawyers. In the wake of blizzards, derechos and Hurricane Sandy, I have become a big fan of the ‘5 nines’—99.999 percent guaranteed uptime at most data centers for electricity and Internet connectivity. With care, you can find a cloud provider that will negotiate its terms to permit law firms to ethically store client data in the cloud. We did!”

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