Disasters / Emergencies

An awning taken down by Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy hit the legal world hard, as we’ve chronicled in these pages. And many lawyers and legal employers are still feeling its effects — quite literally. If you work at one prominent downtown law firm, for example, we hope you’re wearing thermal underwear.

As we mentioned on Friday, some individuals have been exploiting the Superstorm Sandy crisis to take advantage of others. The Justice Department and the SEC have issued warnings about various “Sandy scams.”

On the opposite end of the decency spectrum, some lawyers and law firms are stepping up to the plate and supporting Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery efforts. Let’s see what they’re doing — and give them some well-deserved kudos for their work….

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Manhattan is going back to work today. The power is on, pretty much. The subways are running, basically. And, well hell there’s money to be made, so get your asses to your desks.

While Staten Island is still a soggy disaster, Emperor Bloomberg has gotten the corporate centers of wealth generation back online in his “luxury city.” And so the city that never sleeps is waking up.

But just because we have power doesn’t mean there is heat. Yeah, the power is back on in SoPo, but in many places the heat isn’t yet working. (This is the case in Lat’s apartment; luckily he’s already in Nashville for an event tomorrow at Vanderbilt Law.)

So, I guess you need to be able to type with gloves on? A tipster at one Biglaw firm tells us a chilling story….

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On any list of “scum of the Earth,” people who profiteer off of disaster victims have to make the list. Jesus, it’d be worth Hell existing just so there would be a place for people who take advantage of disasters to loot electronics or valuables (food, if you’re hungry and nobody is home, is fair game I guess). I think there are reasonable people on both sides of the New York City marathon debate, but the thought of any police not stopping a looter to deal with the marathon makes me think they should cancel this year’s event.

Of course, looters aren’t the only kinds of criminals trying to take advantage of the hurricane. The Department of Justice is warning people to be on the lookout for Sandy scams…

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We’ve previously discussed how Mid-Atlantic law schools are having to shuffle their class schedules because of Hurricane Sandy.

Cancelling classes is the easy part. It’s not clear that current students are even capable of taking notes in class without power.

But classes cancelled this week need to be made up next week. Not because the extra teaching is all that crucial, but because the ABA and various state bars mandate a certain number of classroom hours for law students. It’s regulation at its worst: they can’t directly measure what matters (are kids getting a quality education), so they mandate an arbitrary figure that at best means nothing.

At worst, it forces schools to jump through hoops to meet the requirements even during times of hardship. At Rutgers Law-Newark, they’re looking to have finals right up until the holidays. At NYU Law, their best solution is just to make classes excruciatingly long to make up the hours…

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Happy Halloween! Unless you live in New Jersey.

Based here in New York, I’ve spent the last several days watching the news while drinking copious amounts of whisky (klassy hurricane tip: pour the whisky directly into the can of coke — it saves washing a glass later if you’re worried about losing water!). The stream of images showing devastated areas is truly horrifying.

Thankfully my bunker of an apartment survived unscathed, but that did not excuse me from my own share of post-traumatic stress. But in my case it was seeing a number of lawyers-turned-politicians parading across the news channels displaying their own law firm certified brand of crisis management and triggering flashbacks to my years in private practice.

When we suffer the zombie apocalypse (which could happen as early as next Tuesday) or any other movie-level disaster, if we continue to place executive power in the hands of lawyers, we’re all screwed….

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The East Coast clean-up from Hurricane Sandy is well underway. When reached for comment, the city of New Orleans said, “Clean-up? You guys need a wet-vac and you’ll be fine.”

In all fairness, you just have to look at the news to see how Sandy hammered the Northeast, especially New Jersey. Havoc abounds, and law schools in the Garden State are not immune from the disaster…

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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…

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Flooding in Wildwood, New Jersey.

As we mentioned earlier today, we’ll be operating normally here at Above the Law, notwithstanding Hurricane Sandy. Our physical offices, at the corner of Broadway and Houston in Manhattan, are closed. But your four editors — Elie, Staci, Chris, and myself — will be working diligently from our homes to keep you informed and entertained during Frankenstorm.

It seems that we won’t be alone in telecommuting today. Encouraging (or even ordering) employees to stay home, but suggesting that they work remotely if they can, seems to be a common response to the storm.

Here is information — including many UPDATES — about how various courts, government offices, law firms, and law schools are responding to Hurricane Sandy….

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I didn’t mean to interrupt, you were saying something about ‘clean’ coal?

Hurricane Sandy — a.k.a. “Frankenstorm”, because it’s greater than the sum of its parts (and there’s the suggestion that storms like this are growing bigger and stronger because of man messing around with forces he doesn’t fully understand) — is coming. It’s basically a hurricane that’s merging with a Nor’easter that will make it rain, and not in the fun way. The federal government is closed. The New York Stock Exchange is closed. The McDonald’s next to my apartment is closed — Sandy has already cost me a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit.

Don’t worry about me, I’ve got a three-day supply of alcohol and hot pockets. Hopefully you are all similarly prepared for 36 hours of sustained hype wind and rain. Size does matter with Sandy (if “Sandy” sounds a bit mundane, know that the next one will be “Tony”). We might not get a lot of CGI worthy images out of this storm, but the length of this storm could cause a lot of damage.

One thing that is still open: the Supreme Court of the United States. Yes, because the nation might be able to survive without mass transit or the stock exchange, but old men don’t take a day off from sitting in judgment. Reuters reports that the Court prides itself on working when everybody else takes shelter from a storm: “In 1996, when a major snowstorm closed the federal government and brought Washington, D.C., to a near standstill, court arguments went on. Then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a Wisconsin native undeterred by snow and ruled by a strong sense of punctuality, made sure business that January 8 began on schedule.”

UPDATE (12:00 PM): According to SCOTUSblog (based on a press release from the Court), the Court has now cancelled arguments for Tuesday. So, the case of Sandy v. SCOTUS has been decided 9-0 in favor of the people who might have had to put their lives at risk to cover the proceedings.

Let’s look at some of the other things in and around the legal world that are still open along the Eastern seaboard….

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At least Casey Anthony knows her new venue motion is laughable.

* Hurricane Sandy is set to arrive today, so batten down the hatches, folks! Everything’s closing down for the storm, but please feel free to email us, if your law school or law firm is encouraging you to work. [Washington Post]

* Thanks to the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United, companies can now recommend how their employees should vote, which is “no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’” [New York Times]

* Biglaw firms are re-negotiating their office space leases in an effort to save money. While some firms have already sealed their new real estate deals, others are still on the prowl — but which ones? [Am Law Daily]

* The University of St. Thomas School of Law has a new dean, and it certainly seems like he’s willing to make some waves to help his students. The first step for Robert Vischer? Reducing tuition. [National Law Journal]

* “I don’t think her popularity has improved since the [murder] verdict.” That’s probably why Casey Anthony’s lawyers are desperately trying to get a new venue for Zenaida Gonzalez’s defamation case. [Orlando Sentinel]

* A man divorced his formerly fugly wife (she had $100K in plastic surgery to correct her looks), sued her for luring him into marriage her under false pretenses, and won. Don’t worry, girls, this happened in China. [FOX]

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