Are you prepared if disaster
Former Canadian Bar Association president Rod Snow believes
the CBA could follow the lead taken
by the American Bar
Association(ABA) in placing great
emphasis on disaster preparedness.
“We should be asking ourselves
whether we are prepared and if
there is more we should be doing,
both as an organization that helps
articulate best practices through
the work we do, and individual
members — whether in-house or
in private practice working in
large firms or as sole practition-
ers,” said Snow, a partner and
corporate commercial solicitor
with Davis LLP in Whitehorse.
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border for representing former
U.S. vice-president and Democratic presidential candidate Al
Gore in the landmark and controversial U.S. Supreme Court case,
Bush v. Gore 531 U.S. 98 (2000) —
was instrumental in creating that
When Katrina struck its devastating blow on Louisiana in
2005, he served as chair of the
House of Delegates — the second-ranking officer in the ABA just
behind the president, who at the
time was Michael Greco and was
out of the country.
“I couldn’t reach friends of
mine in Louisiana to know
whether they were dead or alive,”
says Zack, administrative partner
with Boies, Schiller & Flexner
LLP in Miami.
So the ABA and LexisNexis,
the publisher of The Lawyers
established a message board for
lawyers and firms to post their
relocation information in the
wake of Katrina.
To make matters worse, Louisi-
ana’s legal system shut down—
“something we hadn’t thought
about and weren’t prepared for as
a profession,” explains Zack. “Jails
closed, so there was no way of
keeping people incarcerated, and
courts closed, so there was no way
of proceeding with legal matters.”
Documents — necessary for the
prosecution of cases—along with
court records were destroyed.
“Then on top of it, thousands of
lawyers from around the country
wanted to provide pro bono legal
services, but the Louisiana
Supreme Court said they couldn’t
come because that would constitute the unauthorized practice of
law,” recalls Zack.
Following pressure from the
ABA, the state’s high court—
along with its counterpart in
Katrina-stricken Mississippi —
enacted special rules to allow out-of-state lawyers to temporarily
practise in those two states and
help hurricane victims. In 2007,
the ABA’s House of Delegates
established the Katrina rule and
soon after, Zack appointed New
Orleans lawyer David Bienvenu —
whom he was trying to reach in
the aftermath of Katrina—as
chair of the ABA’s Special Committee on Disaster Response and
During his recent term as
president, Zack asked the committee to design a disaster preparedness protocol dealing with
everything from network interruptions within the ABA to more
widespread situations that shut
down communication between
lawyers, courts and clients.
As Zack points out, “disaster
preparedness is often the least
important thing for people to consider until it becomes the most