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Many courthouses throughout Florida were closed on Monday and slated to be closed on Tuesday as Tropical Storm Fay — expected to become a hurricane — churned toward the Florida peninsula. Florida law firms, meanwhile, were closely monitoring the storm, activating employee hotlines to notify workers of office closures and readying remote computer servers to keep files safe. As of Monday, the storm was expected to directly hit the Tampa area on the west coast of Florida, and a hurricane warning was issued for southwest Florida. However, strong winds and rain started pummeling South Florida and the Keys on Monday and were expected to intensify by late Monday. Making landfall late Monday, Tropical Storm Fay was expected to organize into a Category One hurricane with maximum winds of 60 miles per hour by Tuesday. Federal courthouses in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties were all closed on Monday and slated to stay closed on Tuesday, while those in West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce remained open — at least at this article’s deadline. U.S. bankruptcy courts throughout South Florida were also closed. Jurors were instructed to call in for further reporting instructions. State courts in the Florida Keys, which were being directly pounded by rain and wind Monday, were closed on Monday and scheduled to remain so on Tuesday. Additionally, state courts in Miami-Dade, Collier, Hendry and Broward counties, as well as the Third District Court of Appeals were closed Monday. Tuesday closures were announced for state courts in Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. They were all expected to reopen Wednesday. Many law schools throughout the state, including the University of Miami and Florida International University, also announced closures for Monday and Tuesday. Florida law firms were open on Monday, but major firms were starting up 24-hour employee call-in lines to deliver information to employees about firm closings. That was the case at Tampa-based Carlton Fields, a 260-lawyer law firm, as well as Holland & Knight, a large law firm with offices in Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee. “We’re still monitoring the situation and haven’t made any decisions about closing,” said Holland & Knight spokeswoman Susan Bass. She noted that one of the firm’s two computer servers is strategically located in Denver, to avoid a breakdown in the case of a hurricane. Her firm also activated a 24-hour, 1-800 employee hotline. Matt Gorson, president of 1,800-lawyer Greenberg Traurig, said his firm sent Miami employees home early but had not yet made a decision on what to do on Tuesday. The firm has a special disaster preparedness group that had a conference call at 8:10 p.m. to discuss the situation and was then scheduled to reconfer at 5:10 in the morning. The decision will be made in the morning as to whether to open offices and e-mails will be sent to staff. “My guess is we will be closed,” Gorson said. Additionally, lawyers throughout Florida were told to move sensitive client papers away from the windows in the event of glass breakage. However, Greenberg did not implement its “heavy-duty” storm preparedness procedures, such as computer file transfers. “Not for this storm,” Gorson said. “We saw we will probably not be getting a direct hit.”

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