Total Solar Eclipse.
Total Solar Eclipse. (shutterstock)

Law firms are looking for marketing opportunities and courts are bracing for logistical challenges as the moon’s shadow prepares to cross the United States from coast to coast Aug. 21.

Firms hope to capitalize on the solar eclipse event, which hasn’t occurred like this in the U.S. for 99 years. Courts in cities along the 70-mile-wide band where the moon will totally block the sun for a couple of minutes are expecting masses to descend on their cities.

Bass, Berry & Sims PLC, Nashville. Solar Eclipse Glasses.

The event will be the fourth total eclipse witnessed by Mark Manner, a corporate partner at Bass, Berry & Sims in Nashville, Tennessee—and the first that he hasn’t had to travel to be able to witness. He plans to be in an airplane above any clouds that threaten ground-based observations, but he said terra firma is a perfectly good base for watching the celestial show, especially as the moon’s shadow approaches.

“The pictures don’t do it justice,” said Manner, an amateur astronomer who spends his nonbillable time searching for planets near distant stars.

Speaking to a reporter from Atlanta, where 97 percent of the sun will be blocked, Manner repeated what he told The Tennessean newspaper last month: “The difference between a partial eclipse and a total eclipse is the difference between kissing and having sex.”

His firm has marked the event with lectures by astronomers, a blog by Manner and gifts to clients and friends—eclipse glasses with the firm’s name on them.

He said Bass Berry considered hosting a party, but the prospects of gridlock and cloudy skies risked guests being annoyed and inconvenienced.

Traffic is also on the minds of judges and court officials in Columbia, South Carolina, which is also in line for a total eclipse.

Jurors called to the local courts on that Monday should come the next day instead, two Columbia judges wrote in an Aug. 1 memo. “It has been brought to our attention that approximately 1.2 million visitors will journey to the City of Columbia, and Richland and Lexington Counties,” they wrote.

The area has a population of about 800,000, according to a state government report.

“There are some NASA predictions August 21, 2017, may be one of the worst traffic days in national history,” read another memo. Nonetheless, county workers are expected to come to work that day unless they take vacation time.

In Georgia, the courthouse in Clayton, a small town in the corner of the state that will experience a total eclipse, will be closed, according to the court clerk.

In Atlanta, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton will be will be serving special “eclipse donuts” from firm client Krispy Kreme throughout the day. “Then, thanks to our building’s distribution of special eclipse viewing glasses, some of us will be able to view the eclipse safely from the top of our building’s parking garage,” said Audra Dial, the firm’s local managing partner.


Editor’s note: If your office is watching the eclipse, send your photos to jringel@alm.com.