By Peter Rudegeair, Casey Sullivan and Nate Raymond
NEW YORK, Oct 29 (Reuters) - With Hurricane Sandy bearing
down on New York, law firms on Monday scrambled to keep
operations running normally, with attorneys working remotely via
BlackBerry and computer and skeletal crews manning offices in
Law firms such as Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and
Cahill, Gordon & Reindel that are in or near the high-risk
financial district areas evacuated by the city shuttered their
offices. Dozens of other firms, including Paul, Weiss, Rifkind,
Wharton & Garrison and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, took
Firms had various plans to keep their employees informed of
developments. Cadwalader, located at One World Financial Center,
provided its attorneys with updates about technology safeguards
and backup systems via email and an emergency telephone hotline,
according to a spokesman. Telephone calls and faxes to New York
were rerouted to the firm's office in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Cadwalader also used a meeting space in midtown Manhattan to
accommodate about 50 lawyers and support staff who were able to
make it to work.
Jonathan Schaffzin, an executive committee member and
corporate partner at Cahill Gordon, said that with attorneys
working remotely, the storm's effect had been minimal as of
Monday morning. But the firm's ability to continue to conduct
business would depend on factors beyond its control, such as
whether courts or client offices were open or whether the power
went out at a particular lawyer's residence, Schaffzin said.
Federal district courts in Delaware, the District of
Columbia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Virginia were
closed on Monday, as were the Courts of Appeals for the Second,
Third and D.C. Circuits -- in New York, Philadelphia and
Washington, D.C., respectively.
"I had a couple deals close this morning actually, so the
world moves on," said Schaffzin, declining to elaborate on the
specifics of the deal. "At some point, everything will grind to
a standstill," he said.
Lawyers at White & Case, located on Avenue of the Americas
in midtown, were also working remotely, said partner Mort
Pierce. "In the past, in bad storms, if something had to get
done, and people had to be in the office to get the work done,
they always found a way," Pierce said in an email. "I assume it
will be no different this time."
Attorneys at Perkins Coie's Manhattan office were working to
obtain an early filing date for several trading system patent
applications for a financial services client, according to a
Perkins Coie spokesman.
Firms with a presence outside of the northeastern United
States leaned on offices in those cities to pick up some of the
slack. Reed Smith's Global Customer Center in Pittsburgh was
"answering the telephones and handling other matters for the
closed locations," Pat Hiltibidal, the firm's chief of offices
services, said in an email.
Kramer Levin's backup business continuity center in Long
Island, which runs parallel systems to the firm's New York
office in case of a power outage, remained on alert.
Hurricane Irene in August 2011 informed some of firms'
contingency planning for Hurricane Sandy. Locke Lord provided
more information to attorneys this time around, said a
spokeswoman. In the event that communications go down in New
York, the firm's Chicago office will send out updates on office
openings and preparation guidelines via their internal website
and a telephone hotline, she said.
Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook