Pro Bono News
Always Braced for a Storm, These Louisiana Firms Knew How to Cope Amid COVID-19 (LA)
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Always Braced for a Storm, These Louisiana Firms Knew How to Cope Amid COVID-19
"With Hurricane Laura bearing down on Louisiana and Texas, leaders of firms with New Orleans offices are reminded of a deadly, destructive storm that hit 15 years ago, almost to the day: Hurricane Katrina. Even after a decade and a half, the disaster plans they refined in response to that storm have proven useful in the COVID-19 crisis.
A pandemic is hardly the same as a major hurricane, but leaders of Louisiana firms said they have approached the business challenges posed by the coronavirus in much the same way they would a hurricane, which is an all-too-common occurrence on the Gulf Coast.
“Once you’ve gone through something like Katrina, you have a new skill set for responding and understanding and how to be resourceful … and have a real understanding of what your resources are,” said Linda Perez Clark, managing partner of Kean Miller.
Clark and several others said that even as the practice of law has changed since 2005, that skill set has served them well in 2020. And the experience of Katrina remains fresh in their minds.
“Even though it’s been 15 years, at least for me, it’s like it was yesterday,” said Rudy Aguilar, managing member of McGlinchey Stafford.
Aguilar said his firm learned that communication, particularly internal communication, is vital in a crisis. He was also McGlinchey Stafford’s managing member in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit.
“During Katrina, our people wanted to know we were operational, that we would survive … that there was work, that we could pay our bills,” Aguilar said. “During COVID we [remembered] that lesson [and used] town hall meetings” to stay in touch.
McGlinchey Stafford also made sure to communicate with clients, landlords, suppliers, vendors and banks in March, to assure them the firm was up and running. Switching to remote work was seamless because of the existing disaster plan, he said. And the firm made sure its employee assistance program was ready to spring into action, particularly for those who had not experienced something like Hurricane Katrina..."