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Who remembers the Great Chicago Flood of 1992? I do. I was actually a senior in high school at the time and for those of you who don’t recall here’s a link for you. Basically some dredge and piling work being done on the Chicago River resulted in some old utility tunnel being damaged with many inter-connected tunnels that ran under large portions of Loop office buildings being flooded. I owned a cheesy “I Survived the Chicago Flood” T-shirt for many years thereafter.
My law firm survived a flood just last week. You don’t really expect flooding on the 32nd Floor of a Loop office building but that 33rd Floor above us does have a kitchen and bathrooms that use running water and pipes in our ceiling that deliver that water. Well, sometimes pipes leak…profusely!
Here’s how my firm survived the Flood of 2013:
- Our Practice is in the Cloud. This is such a key productivity issue for days you’re sick or to access documents when in court and, YES, to survive a flood. My associate attorney and I were displaced for 3-4 days but our work product was in same place it always is: Google Apps, DropBox, Rocket Matter. Our telephones are routed through Answeringservice.com which can be forwarded anywhere.
- Mobile Computing & Home Office. One lesson I took from our flood is that I should invest more in making sure every staff member has adequate mobile computing or home office computing options. I likely should invest in 2-3 laptops or tablets for general mobile computing with court appearances and such but also for emergency work at home circumstances. Because my associate attorney’s work at home set-up was a little lacking because I hadn’t given her the tools she needed and she wasn’t used to working at home. I have worked at home a lot over the years and enjoyed an extremely productive time working from home.
- Check Your Insurance. Thankfully most of damage caused by the flood was to the office structure itself and not to the contents of our office. Meaning, the office owner essentially damaged itself which they repaired themselves. Some items on the floor of our space were damaged which we submitted through the main tenant’s (we’re a subtenant) insurance policy. Check your coverage. If I would have had to buy several new computers or such, that would have been a big problem.
- Don’t Hold Client Trust Property/Documents. In a family law practice such as ours it’s almost never necessary to have a client’s original documents such as tax returns, wills, etc. This sort of paperwork is what could have been damaged by flooding.
- No Excuses…Get it Done. I so admire people who have success despite unforeseen adversity and that was the fun, flood challenge I faced. Remember the year when New England Patriot QB Tom Brady tore his ACL in week 1 and yet the Pats still went on to have an 11-5 season? Same with our flood or the day you’re sick or the day your computer crashes; be ready.
- Know Thy Landlord, Building Management Company. Almost all these guys are pretty good at signing a lease and cashing a rent check but how do they handle flood clean-up and repair? I give props to both our landlord and the building’s management company at 161 N. Clark, Chicago, IL. Yes, the flooding happened but the post-flooding reaction was very good. Check-out your situation in advance or when you’re looking for office space to be sure you’re covered when the sky is clear.