Mark C. Evans of Houston, the managing partner of Houston-based Bracewell & Giuliani, says all three of the firm’s East Coast offices — in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Conn. — closed on Oct. 29 due to predictions about storm Sandy. But now that the storm has hit and hit hard, Evans expresses relief. He says no one at Bracewell was hurt and the three offices’ downtown buildings have fared well. The largest of the offices is in midtown Manhattan, with 150 workers; it still was closed on Oct. 30, but Evans expects it to open this afternoon.
That doesn’t mean, Evans says, that the New York office will have a full complement of workers. He notes that all the subways in New York City are shut down, and the only access to the island is through the Lincoln Tunnel. Many staff members live outside Manhattan, he says, and will have trouble getting into work. “We expect to be very flexible with staff,” he says.
Many of the firm’s partners and associates, Evans says, reside in lower Manhattan, south of 38th Street, below which power company Con Edison had shut down all power. As a result, Evans says, those lawyers need to come to the office to use electricity. Several cases and deals are pending for clients, and teams of New York-based lawyers are working on them. So, Evans says, getting the lawyers on those teams to places with computing power is an urgent matter.
Some forward-thinking associates, he says, flew to Houston on the weekend so they could avoid storm-created delays. Evans is thankful for that and adds, “We’ve got to get people operational.”
Steve Susman, a partner in Houston’s Susman Godfrey, commutes between New York and his firm’s base. He followed the same route and schedule as those prescient Bracewell associates, heading to Texas before Sandy hit.
“On Sunday morning, when everything I had scheduled for the week was cancelled, we loaded up the dogs and flew home,” Susman writes in an email. He writes that the power remains on and everyone is safe in the firm’s Manhattan office, which — like many New York outposts of Lone Star State firms — is located in midtown.
“The problem is the mass transit system. Until that gets restored, the city will be locked down for business,” Susman writes.
Ken Bezozo, a partner in the New York office of Dallas-based Haynes and Boone, writes in an email that his firm's 60-lawyer midtown Manhattan office “was not adversely affected by high water.”
But Bezozo notes that it remains “closed for the second straight day because our attorneys and staff cannot travel to the office due to a lack of mass transit. Without mass transit (particularly the subways), we are frozen. And very few of our attorneys or staff live within walking distance of the office.”
He adds: “[A] number of our attorneys are without power at their homes which of course effectively prevents them from working remotely. It's not a good situation at all. Personally, this is by far the worst storm I have ever witnessed.”
— Miriam Rozen