Come Hell or High Snowfall, the Work Goes On

February 12, 2010 – In The News
The Legal Intelligencer

24-Hour World

The snow storm that hit the East Coast Feb. 9 and 10 forced local law firms with offices up and down the East Coast to make the tough decision on whether to open up shop.

Mark Silow made it into the Philadelphia office Thursday morning from his Center City home, but he didn't expect his staff to.

Silow sent out an e-mail Wednesday night informing staff that the seven offices in the Philadelphia metro area would be closed, but he told attorneys they were expected to work Thursday whether it be from home or from their offices.

The Philadelphia; Princeton and Atlantic City, N.J.; Wilmington, Del.; and Chester, Bucks and Montgomery County offices of the firm were all completely closed Wednesday, and Silow said they were all closed to staff Thursday. The Pittsburgh, New York and Roseland, N.J. offices each closed early Wednesday and opened an hour late Thursday, he said.

Like many law firms, Fox Rothschild operates its external network on Citrix, allowing the attorneys to access e-mail and all other network operations from home. Silow said the system typically has around 25 users at one time, but that number was up to 405 at one point Wednesday.

In deciding whether to close Thursday, Silow had to weigh the safety and schedules of staff due to unplowed roads and school closings, as well as whether anyone would show up even if the offices were open or whether staff would be there while the attorneys stayed home and worked remotely. The other factor was the business consideration.

"When you sell time, you've gotta work," Silow said.

But the snow won out, and everything weighed in favor of closing down shop — at least partially. He said he reminded attorneys that even if the offices were closed, their obligation of professional responsibility to clients was not on hiatus.