Unless you are working on fixing this, you might not be ‘essential’ today.

I was feeling pretty goddamn sorry for myself yesterday afternoon. I was working when it felt like everybody else on the Eastern seaboard had the day off. I wanted to sit in bed and watch Homeland instead of writing whatever the hell I wrote yesterday. I couldn’t even get a pizza delivered. When New York City immigrants aren’t out there trying to make a buck, you know things are shut down.

But then a crane nearly fell down and I realized that a bunch of people were “remoting in” and trying to work or appear to be work, and it made me feel better. Who are these clients that needed “service” yesterday? What the hell do they want today? Honestly, the worst part about being a lawyer with clients is that I believe “client” is Greek for “unreasonable omega-hole.”

Did you work yesterday? What is your firm’s “storm plan” to keep you billing hours instead of taking A DAY OR TWO off? There are some fun stories about Cravath’s and Orrick’s emergency keep working plans. Let’s take a look and take a poll to see who is really working today…

In case you are wondering about the safety of your Above the Law editors: Lat is 30 flights up with no power. Staci is out in the wilderness with no power. Danzig is in California celebrating the World Series. And I never lost power, had no flooding, and didn’t have the facade of my building fall off. I know, I know, the storm passed me by because of Affirmative-Action.

If I worked at Cravath… I’d be working my tail off. From the National Law Journal:

Attorneys at Cravath Swaine & Moore in New York went in on a voluntary basis, according to a firm secretary who answered the telephone. The firm’s chef made it to work, cooking breakfast and lunch–gratis–for those in attendance. Cravath was footing the bill for attorneys who want to remain close to the office in hotels.

I know that its traditional in Biglaw to not really give a crap about the lives and concerns of support-staff, but do we have any idea how that intrepid Cravath secretary got home yesterday? Surely today, what with the New York City subway system having its biggest disaster in its 108 year history, we can let the secretaries stay home.

Why does any non-essential employee — which should include nearly every attorney — need to work at all? Well, I’m being told that the world does not in-fact start and end with New York City:

Some attorneys at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s New York office made it in. “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” said Peter Bicks, the partner in charge. Bicks wasn’t sure exactly how many employees were on hand, but said that the lights, power and even the food cart parked on the street outside were fully operational.

Bicks had a filing due in France and said clients not based on the East Coast were depending on the firm to file documents in other jurisdictions.

With all due respect to the legendary implacability of the French, wouldn’t those clients understand that things are broken here in for a second?

Of course, for every lawyer who is working, there have to be at least five who are just pretending to work. If you have something to actually file in a jurisdiction that is still operational, that’s one thing. Certainly, the fact that this storm happened right at the end of the month isn’t doing financial services lawyers any favors.

But most vast majority of lawyers in Manhattan and D.C. don’t actually have anything that’s “due.” Oh, lawyers like to pretend that they are always working on very important matters subject to real deadlines, but here’s a newsflash, that privilege log didn’t really need to be done by noon on Monday. The liability shield template can be added on Thursday just as easily as it could be added on Tuesday.

A storm like this reminds us of those in our society who have really important jobs. Firefighters, the Coast guard, the nurses who moved children and sick people out of the NYU Medical Center after the back-up generator failed — these are the people who really have to work during the storm and its aftermath.

Lawyers are not on that list. Even Governor Chris Christie said that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Lawyers, generally, are the people you have to ask if you want permission; for at least some lawyers, staying home and out of the way is the best way to help.

Of course, it wouldn’t be surprising if Biglaw lawyers had neglected their personal lives to the point that they have nothing else better to do than work during the storm.

Are you working today?

  • Yes sir! These papers aren't going to push themselves. (40%, 394 Votes)
  • I've logged in, but I'm primarily taking it easy and surfing the 'net -- you know, like any other day. (37%, 368 Votes)
  • No. In fact, why am I even here? (23%, 233 Votes)

Total Voters: 995

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Legal profession hunkers down, but finds ways to serve the clients [National Law Journal]


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