Bill Custer reads poetry to his wife during tropical storm Irma yesterday in Atlanta.
Bill Custer reads poetry to his wife during tropical storm Irma yesterday in Atlanta. ()

Most of Atlanta’s largest law firms, which had shut down on Monday because of Tropical Storm Irma, reported on Tuesday they were once again open for business.

Plenty of condos and apartments still didn’t have power in Midtown, the heart of Atlanta’s law firm district, but King & Spalding, Alston & Bird, Eversheds Sutherland and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton were open, along with Morris Manning & Martin in Buckhead.

Troutman Sanders’ local office at the south end of Midtown at North Avenue, however, was still closed.

Atlanta law firms, like other businesses, courts, schools—and MARTA—had closed Monday in advance of heavy winds and rain from Irma—Atlanta’s first tropical storm since Opal in 1995. And while people waited for the storm to pass, some shared how they were coping on Facebook.

Quite a few of the many lawyers who posted on Facebook that they had lost power late Monday afternoon elected to distract themselves with a nice bottle of wine or a pint of ice cream. And one­—Bryan Cave partner Bill Custer—took the opportunity to read poetry by candlelight to his wife, Cheryl Custer, a lawyer in solo practice.

He chose a volume written by Billy Collins, the nation’s former poet laureate, entitled “The Apple That Astonished Paris.”

“It’s an oldie but a goodie,” Custer said. “It’s perfect for reading in the midst of a hurricane. Collins has a lighthearted touch, so it’s the kind of poetry that you can pick up and enjoy after a year of not having read it.”

Not long after the poetry reading commenced, the lights came back on at his home in Druid Hills, Custer added.

And on Tuesday, he was back on the job as a “hard-nosed litigator” at Bryan Cave’s Midtown office at One Atlantic Center. “I’m working on nothing but hard-nosed pleadings today,” Custer said.

South Florida-based Carlton Fields Jorden Burt’s Atlanta office, also at One Atlantic Center, was open, but the firm’s Miami and West Palm Beach offices were still closed on Tuesday. Their Tampa and Tallahassee locations were open, however.

Even though most large firms had re-opened Tuesday, many lawyers and staff elected to work from home, depending on conditions in their neighborhoods. Downed trees and power lines made many roads dangerous.

Custer said Bryan Cave delayed opening until 10 a.m. on Tuesday, but it looked like most people had returned.

Kilpatrick also opened a little later on Tuesday to give people time to decide if it would be safe to come in to work at the firm’s Midtown headquarters at 1100 Peachtree St., said the firm’s receptionist, Delilah Miller. “It’s really quiet,” Miller said. “Safety is key with KT.”

Fulton County courts were still closed on Tuesday, but they will reopen on Wednesday with regular business hours.

Troutman Sanders’ managing partner, Steve Lewis, said the firm has canceled its annual partners retreat, scheduled for this weekend in Orlando. He said that, with air travel disrupted, getting people to Orlando from its offices on the West Coast and China would be too complicated logistically.

More importantly, Lewis said, “It’s an acknowledgement that many in the firm shared that this isn’t really the time to go on a partners’ retreat in Florida, given the chaos they’re dealing with.”

Troutman is matching all donations from employees and partners for relief efforts to help victims of both Hurricanes Harvey and, now, Irma, Lewis added.