Large firms in Florida recovered swiftly from the ravages of Hurricane Irma, with offices at some of the state’s largest firms open for business on Tuesday.
Cesar Alvarez, senior chairman of Greenberg Traurig, which has offices in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Tallahassee and West Palm Beach, said all of the firm’s offices fared well in the storm and employees who could make it to the offices were at work. He said Sept. 12 will be a regular workday.
“Probably the two that would have been impacted the worst could have been Miami and maybe Fort Lauderdale, but when it [Irma] went upstate, it was not as severe a storm,” said Alvarez, who is in Miami.
Irma was a Category 4 storm when it made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sept. 10.
Alvarez said a lot of trees were knocked down by the storm’s high winds, but water in the Miami business district has receded. “I am right now right by our office and it is absolutely dry, not even a puddle,” Alvarez said.
GrayRobinson, which has 13 offices in Florida, had “soft openings” at several offices Tuesday and all offices except Key West, Naples, Jacksonville, Boca Raton and Fort Myers will be open on Sept. 13, said Mayanne Downs, president and managing director.
Downs said the firm has a protected duplicate server that allows all lawyers to work remotely, and the firm never lost connectivity to that server. The firm also rented hotel rooms in Miami and elsewhere so staff and lawyers have a place to rest, shower and get cool if they don’t have air conditioning.
She said none of the firm’s offices sustained damage, but the Jacksonville office is in a tower with water and power problems. She said some of the firm’s employees had some close calls, including a tree that fell on a staff member’s house, but everyone is safe.
Like other large firms in Florida, Holland & Knight offices were generally closed on Monday and Tuesday, although lawyers could access their offices in some locations. The firm expects all offices to be open on Sept. 13.
Linda Butler, senior communications manager, said the firm implemented contingency plans for the hurricane which involved relocating some administrative personnel and lawyers outside the state, so the firm could provide uninterrupted service. She said the firm was very fortunate. “The impact on our operations has been very limited and of short duration,” she said.
The firm’s Florida offices are in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
Carlton Fields Jorden Burt closed offices late last week before Hurricane Irma hit Florida and kept them closed on Monday. According to firm public relations manager Kate Barth, the offices in Orlando, Tallahassee and Tampa reopened today, and the Miami and West Palm Beach offices will reopen on Sept. 13.
“We have returned to business as usual and will continue to provide uninterrupted client service,” she wrote in an email.
Greenspoon Marder has 12 offices in Florida. Most were open Tuesday, and all will be open on Sept. 13.
“Greenspoon Marder was very fortunate to have suffered minimal downtime during the storm. All of our offices outside of Florida were running as usual and our 12 offices and employees in Florida were prepared. Our team worked diligently prior to, during the storm and post-storm to keep all systems running and in order to get back to business as soon as possible,” Michelle Martinez Reyes, the firm’s chief marketing officer, said.
All eight offices of Shutts & Bowen were closed on Monday and Tuesday, but will reopen on Sept. 13. Micky Grindstaff, the Orlando-based managing partner of the firm, said power has been restored to all offices and none sustained major damage.
South Florida firms took steps days before Hurricane Irma hit Florida to secure offices and ensure that client matters would be handled.
Late last month, after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and dumped 51 inches of rain on Houston, some firms with offices in downtown Houston kept their offices closed for the week of Aug. 28 due to much flooding throughout the city, even as lawyers worked remotely.
Senior reporter Brenda Sapino Jeffreys works on ALM’s business of law desk. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @BrendaSJeffreys.