Winter weather can be unpredictable in the Fifth Circuit, and lawyers need to be prepared to deal with a sudden ice storm.
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area lawyers learned this lesson the hard way last Friday, as both flights and road travel ground to a halt in the face of a massive ice storm, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
How can Gulf-area legal professionals weather the storms this winter?
Have a Home Backup Plan
When a major ice storm hits and the roads turn into driving hazards, it's important to have a way to effectively work from home.
There are any number of cloud storage options to make sure that your office files are available anywhere like Bitcasa and Dropbox, but any solution will require attorneys to be vigilant or organized in keeping backups in the cloud. If you get a good automated backup system set up, you may only need to your iPhone if you're iced in.
Make sure that your work-at-home space has all the utilities you might need to conduct business without leaving your house (e.g. fax machine, reliable Internet connection, lots of coffee, etc.) Those with telecommuting experience may already have this well in hand.
Check for Court Closures
The Fifth Circuit will not be a sole beacon during a terrible storm; it and the federal district courts in your area will close if there is significantly crummy weather.
When the North Texas area was hit by Winter Storm Cleon on Friday, several federal district courts in Texas' Northern District were closed for the day, as DFW roads had been effectively shut down, reports Courthouse News Service.
Don't assume that your federal court will be closed if it's too chilly to leave bed. Give the court clerk a ring before you decide to settle in.
Drive Safe or Don't Drive at All
The Gulf states may be known for some balmy weather during the summer, fall, winter ... well, basically all year, but icy weather does happen. And when it happens, most drivers will not be prepared to make it to the corner store, much less the courthouse.
But not you, super-prepared lawyer, you'll know how to avoid car accidents on icy roads by giving other drivers space and pumping your brakes. And driving even slower than the speed limit if that's what's safe.
And if you're just going to stay inside, check out this recipe for warm bourbon cider.
- Winter Storm Cleon: Top Heavy Snow, Sleet, Ice Totals (The Weather Channel)
- Delivery Failure Doesn't Make Court 'Inaccessible' (FindLaw's U.S. 11th Circuit Blog)
- Top 3 Hurricane Preparation Tips for Lawyers on the Gulf (FindLaw's U.S. 5th Circuit Blog)
- Mobile Lawyering: 3G/4G Data, Lessons From Working on the Road (FindLaw's Technologist)