Attorneys at the two biggest law firms in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are moving back into their downtown building this week after abandoning the offices on June 11 because of flooding that forced a mandatory evacuation of the city center.
Simmons Perrine, which has 40 lawyers, will return to its office space at 115 Third Street S.E. on Thursday, while Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, with 38 lawyers located in the same building, returned on Monday, leaders of the two firms said. Neither firm had damage to their office space because they were on the upper floors of the building, but the lawyers were unable to return until now because the building didn't have power.
"The idea of the move for us is that when the lawyers walk through the door, everything is working," said Roger Stone, chairman of Simmons Perrine.
The flooding in Iowa last month was the state's worst ever natural disaster, with high waters covering nine square miles and hitting the Cedar Rapids area the hardest. Litigation related to cleanup for the flood has already started to come into Simmons Perrine's office, and there's likely to be more over issues related to insurance policies and faulty construction, said Stone, who is a litigator.
"When you have this kind of catastrophe, some people get blamed for it," he said.
Attorneys for the general practice firms have been working from temporary locations, including school spaces in suburban Mount Vernon, while some worked from home. Computer servers for both firms were moved to safeguard information technology systems. Lawyers had been allowed to enter the building to retrieve files on certain days during the closure, said Gary Streit, Shuttleworth's managing partner.
Stone estimates that his firm's hours were down by about 20 percent during the past month as a result of the flood disruption. "We think that's pretty darn good," he said. "Our lawyers stayed engaged."