Swine Flu

KL Gates logo.JPGMany law firms have figured out that the best way to stop the spread of swine flu is to have their sick people stay home from work. Last week, we mentioned that Akerman Senterfitt had explicitly told its associates that staying home because of swine flu would not count against their vacation time.
The stay home message has also gone out at K&L Gates. But apparently one associate didn’t get the memo and showed up to work despite having flu-like symptoms. The associate was eventually diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.
The associate drew the ire of K&L Gates managing partner Peter Kalis. All associates at K&L Gates then received a blistering email from the managing partner.

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Akerman logo.JPGWe previously reported on Ropes & Gray hoarding Tamiflu for its employees. Reaction was mixed. Some people applauded Ropes looking out for the health of their employees and their families; others feared that Ropes was unwittingly contributing to a drug-resistant strain of the H1N1 virus.
But there are many ways to prevent an outbreak of piggy pestilence at a law firm near you. One of the most, dare I say rational, measures is to make sure that people who are sick aren’t coming into work.
That’s what they are doing at Akerman Senterfitt. The Washington Post reports (gavel bang: ABA Journal) that the firm is allowing people with the sickness to take time off of work, without counting it against their allotted leave time:

When Great Falls resident Carolyn Cuppernull’s 10-year-old daughter came down with swine flu, she didn’t have to take time off work to stay home with her.
Cuppernull is senior marketing manager of the Washington office of the law firm Akerman Senterfitt. Under the group’s former policy, she would have had to use paid leave to stay home if she or a relative got sick. But the firm recently updated its rules to allow employees to stay home with full pay — without using leave time — for H1N1-related absences.

Now that’s a way to make sure your office doesn’t suffer a swine flu outbreak without potentially contributing to the mutation of a global super virus.
Of course, there is a downside.

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ropes gray logo.JPGAccording to the Center for Disease Control, these are the groups most at risk for swine flu:

* Children younger than 2 years old;
* Adults 65 years of age or older;
* Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks postpartum (including following pregnancy loss)
* Persons with the following conditions:
* Chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological (including sickle cell disease), or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
* Disorders that that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or other neuromuscular disorders)
*Immunosuppression, including that caused by medications or by HIV;

Oh wait, I think the CDC forgot a group: Biglaw lawyers. Ropes & Gray apparently thinks that its lawyers are at risk — so like any good company, the firm is “stockpiling” swine flu drugs. The Boston Globe reports:

The Boston-based law firm Ropes & Gray made arrangements this month for hundreds of its employees and their families to obtain the antiviral medicine Tamiflu to protect them from swine flu, a move that the company calls a wise precaution but that public health officials criticized as medically questionable stockpiling.

Hoarding swine flu medication? Really? That is not cool.
Additional details after the jump.

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Swine Flu girl woman.jpgOver in Israel and India, people are still panicked over swine flu. But here in the United States, it seems to be generating mostly yawns (with the occasional lawsuit mixed in).
Earlier in the summer, swine flu hit a number of law-related venues, including Duke Law School, the Bronx D.A.’s office, and Mayer Brown (in Chicago). We’ve also heard unconfirmed reports of swine flu outbreaks in a Massachusetts courthouse and an Atlanta law firm.
But Chicago seems to be where it’s at. A law school and a law firm that have hosted cases in the Windy City, after the jump.

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(Or: If you’re visiting Chicago, take a face mask.)”

Duke law swine flu.jpgSwine flu has struck firms. It has struck a district attorney’s office. Even though it’s summer, the nasty virus has now invaded at least one law school.
This year, a few Duke University Law School students are summer camp counselors instead of summer associates. Spending the summer with little kids instead of the BigLaw boys, and raking in four figures instead of five, must hurt a little. On top of that, these legal Blue Devils now have to deal with swine flu. From the Charlotte Observer:

There are 14 confirmed flu cases among campers and camp counselors at Duke University, campus officials say. Those 14 cases are probably the H1N1, or swine flu virus, officials said. More than a dozen other people have cases that are not yet confirmed.

It looks like a Duke Law student might be to blame for the outbreak. From a tipster:

A number of law students that are RAing for professors over the summer are working as supervisors of the [Talent Identification Program] and also teaching classes on the criminal justice system to the TIP students.

We received this email today:

“Dear All,
I write to inform you that a Law School student was seen by Duke Student Health Services this morning with symptoms that closely match those experienced by individuals with H1N1 Flu. An actual diagnosis will not be available until Monday, at the earliest. The student is at home recuperating from his symptoms and following recommended isolation procedures for those with H1N1-like symptoms.
We have contacted all individuals who were in a class with this student to alert them to a possible H1N1 exposure…”

Read the full e-mail after the jump. And an UPDATE (12:25 p.m.) on patient zero.

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Swine flu kisses.JPGRemember to wash your hands, New York attorneys. There’s been a swine flu outbreak in the Bronx. Here’s the memo from the Bronx District Attorney’s Office:

Yesterday I was informed that there were three who have contracted the H1N1 virus also known as “swine flu”. Each is home and being treated by their physicians. All of them work in the Criminal Court Bureau. I have been in communication with the Mayor’s Office and the Health Department. I have also informed Administrative Judge Efrain Alvarado. Attached you will find Health Department guidelines dealing with the virus and preventing its spread. In light of these diagnoses our Office will conduct a cleaning in the Criminal Court Bureau to help curtail the virus’ spread.
Please read the attached guidelines. While this is a potentially serious illness, each of the individuals who contracted the virus took the appropriate steps by not coming to work and seeking medical attention. Unless there is an underlying medical condition this virus has been relatively mild. We will continue to monitor our staff and report any additional cases to the appropriate authorities. I want to assure everyone that we as an Office wish to address the concerns of staff as they relate to this issue. We will continue to communicate with you and provide you with information. Further, we will continue follow the recommendations of the health authorities. If there are any questions please feel free to call me.

When this happens at a school, they close the school and bring in a lot of soap. But when it happens at a place of business (as we’ve seen already with the outbreak at Mayer Brown), it seems like the onus is on individual employees to protect themselves.
Still, I’m not too concerned. I’ve got chicken soup, Robitussin, and Sprite, so I should be golden.
Earlier: Breaking: Swine Flu at Mayer Brown (Chicago)

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher Flom new.jpgThe dreaded swine flu, aka the H1N1 virus, made it to Mayer Brown last week. Will it now work its way up the Am Law 100?
This afternoon, via Fashionista (last paragraph), we learned that swine flu has hit the hallowed halls of Vogue. And we all know who shares a fancy building with Vogue and Conde Nast: Skadden Arps.
In the past, Skadden employees have expressed disappointment over not sharing elevators with Vogue’s glamorous hotties. Perhaps now the Skaddenites are thanking their lucky stars — or wishing they had taken Sidebar.

mayer brown swine flu outbreak.jpgAt least one summer associate in the Chicago office of Mayer Brown appears to have contracted swine flu (aka the H1N1 virus), according to a firm memo that was circulated within the past hour. In addition, a second associate has been showing symptoms.
Quipped one of the many tipsters who sent this our way: “As though summer associates didn’t have it bad enough already this year:” Said a second source: “Rumor is that a lot of people are not feeling well.”
The Windy City has been hard hit by swine flu. As Tim Hadac, a spokesman for the Department of Public Health, told the Chicago Tribune, “This virus is spreading everywhere in the city right now.” On Sunday, a 22-year-old man — roughly the age of an average summer associate, maybe a bit younger — died of swine flu.
A spokesperson for Mayer Brown confirmed the news but did not offer much in the way of additional detail. One of the summer associates had a nasal swab test come back positive for swine flu, but this test is not definitive. According to the spokesperson, doctors have not performed a blood test — which would be definitive — because such tests are being reserved for the elderly and the young.
The affected summers and their officemates, who started at the firm just last week, won’t be coming into work for the rest of this week. From the memo:

Mayer Brown has been notified that a summer associate in the Chicago Office may have contracted the H1N1 virus. Another summer associate is also showing symptoms of this virus These summer associates are under medical care and will be staying at home. As a precaution, we have instructed the summer associates who share an office with the affected summer associates to remain at home for the balance of the week.

Read the full memo, after the jump.

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Swine Flu law schools.JPGThere is little chance that the American experiment would have survived a serious outbreak of the bubonic plague. The Athenians fought a war while stricken with the plague. Granted, it didn’t go so well, but that’s not the point. But a couple of kids get a new strain of spring flu (which is at least as accurate of a name for it as “swine flu”) and people start losing it.

Of course, law students are nothing if not susceptible to mass hysteria. Take this message that students at Loyola – Los Angeles received:

Dear Students,

Please be advised that students will be permitted to wear breathing masks during an examination. If a student chooses to do so, he/she will be permitted to bring and use the mask at his/her seat in the examination room. This policy will remain in effect through the end of the 2009 Spring examination period. Thank you.

Office of the Registrar Loyola Law School

On the one hand, are people really wasting precious exam cramming time worrying about swine flu? Really?

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