Natural Disasters

As Hurricane Sandy Sweeps In, Courts and Law Firms Close Down in DC, NJ and NY

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Updated: As what is expected to be an epic storm sweeps into the East Coast from Florida to Canada and could hit the Northeast especially hard, courts and law firms both large and small joined numerous other establishments—including the U.S. Supreme Court—on Monday in announcing that their operations would be curtailed.

In Massachusetts, the offices of Nixon Peabody are technically open but operating with a skeleton staff while many attorneys work from home, a spokeswoman told the Boston Business Journal.

Other firms nearer to what was expected to be the center of likely storm surges and flooding, closed completely as government officials in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., shut down mass transit systems and urged residents to stay home and even evacuate from low-lying areas.

In the nation’s capital, law firms that shut down Monday included Alston + Bird; Patton Boggs (the firm also closed its offices in New Jersey and New York City), Hogan Lovells; and Holland & Knight, Politico reports.

The Philadelphia-based Locks Law Firm announced that it would be closed Monday, and the Weiser Law Firm said in a Web announcement that its Pennsylvania office would be closed on Monday and Tuesday and would not even have a functioning computer server for some of that time. However, the firm said its California office could be reached if Pennsylvania lawyers and staff were not immediately available.

Reed Smith said its offices in New York, Princeton, N.J., Philadelphia, the Washington, D.C., area and Wilmington, Del., would be closed Monday, but other offices would be open.

Noting that all New Jersey courts will be closed Monday and Tuesday, the law firm of DeMichele & DeMichele said its offices in Haddon Heights would be closed Monday and urged those who might wish to visit Tuesday to check for an online update before doing so.

Diamond Reporting and Legal Video said state and federal courts in New York City were closed Monday, and courts in a number of counties surrounding the metropolitan area were also shut down.

A Reuters article said state and federal courts in a swath from Virginia to Massachusetts were closed, but added that emergency applications in family court cases were still being accepted at courts in New York City.

“We have an infrastructure that will accommodate folks that need emergency attention,” said state court spokesman David Bookstaver. “We understand that while the courts may be closed, certain functions of the judicial system need to continue to operate.”

Meanwhile, at least two law firms in Florida and Texas, apparently anticipating business from the storm, were registering website domain names related to the hurricane, although none of them appear to be up and running yet, Domain Name Wire reports.

At one point, at least half of the new Sandy-related domain names registered appeared to have been snapped up by those two firms.

Related coverage: “As Hurricane Sandy Closes Many East Coast Courts, Supreme Court Stays Open on Monday” “Supreme Court Switches Course, Cancels Tuesday Arguments” “Several Law Schools Announce Hurricane Sandy Closings”

Updated at 3:13 p.m. to include information from Reuters.

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