November 8, 2012 Update - Further Information About The Legal Aid Society's Operations - Message for Legal Aid Staff
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 08, 2012

We want to update you on some developments with respect to our operations. We understand that the storm last night has created added complications for many of you. Our long-standing inclement weather policy that we invoked last week is in effect. Staff members are expected to make reasonable efforts to reach the offices at which they are working. We will evaluate each person's individual circumstances and be reasonable when staff members have made every effort to come to work. Allan Fox, our Chief Human Resources Officer, will continue to coordinate our consideration of these matters in consultation with managers.

We now have more information regarding our Water Street building. Unfortunately, our landlord has informed us that it will take six to eight weeks to repair the building. We have therefore arranged for temporary space for this period of time as follows: the Shared Services operation has been relocated to and is already operating at 49 Thomas Street; the Criminal Appeals Bureau staff will be relocated to the offices of the Paul Weiss law firm in mid-town where there will be telephone and computer services; the Juvenile Rights Appeals Unit, the Prisoners' Rights Project, the Pro Bono staff, the Development Office, the Library staff, and some of the Recruitment staff will be relocated to space provided by the Skadden law firm in mid-town where there will be telephone and computer services; the Parole Revocation Defense Unit will operate out of the Riker's Island Judicial Center and the Queens Boulevard office when telephone and computer services can be arranged, and pending those Queens office arrangements staff will continue to work in the location that is the most accessible to them given the need to travel to Riker's Island; other than the Prisoners' Rights Project, the Civil Practice units that were at Water Street (Employment, Immigration, Homeless Rights, Health, Training and Law Reform) and the Civil Practice Administration will operate from various Civil offices; other than the Juvenile Rights Appeals Unit, the Juvenile Rights units that were at Water Street (Special Litigation, the Education Advocacy Project, and Training) and the Juvenile Rights Practice Administration will operate out of various Juvenile Rights offices; the Criminal Practice Training staff and the Criminal Practice Administration will continue to be based mainly at 111 Livingston Street and the Criminal Practice Special Litigation Unit will be based mainly at 49 Thomas Street; the MIS Department will continue to operate from the Data Center as well as in the field in our offices; other than the MIS Department, the Shared Services unit, Pro Bono staff, the Development Office, the Library staff and some of the Recruitment staff, the Society's Central Administration will continue to be based at 111 Livingston Street, including the Human Resources Department, the Finance and Payroll staff, the Communications Office, and the Facilities staff. Managers of the affected Water Street offices will be communicating directly with Water Street staff about these matters, including arrangements to remove files and other materials.

We are publishing a notice in the Law Journal that we will now accept service at 49 Thomas Street because the Water Street building is closed. Managers will be working with Water Street attorneys to make sure that all opposing counsel are advised that, until further notice, legal papers should be served at 49 Thomas Street rather than 199 Water Street. As soon as we have information regarding the telephone numbers and exact locations of individual Water Street staff members, we will provide that to you. We are sending a communication to Society clients who are represented by Water Street staff and to other entities with whom we interact to inform them of our temporary relocation and a notice is being posted at the building. Our main 212-577-3300 number has been transferred to the Bronx office where it is being answered. Our Civil Access to Benefits hotline has been converted to a Disaster Relief hotline and has been moved to the Harlem Community Law Office. Other key hotlines and telephone numbers, including our Prisoners' Rights phone line, are in the process of being moved. Because there is no telephone service in the Water Street building, we cannot yet put telephone messages on individual telephone numbers. RightFax service is not currently operational because Verizon has not yet restored telephone service to 199 Water Street and because RightFax operation requires that power be provided to our telephone closet in Water Street, which is not currently possible. We are working with Verizon and with building management to attempt to restore these services.

In other developments, the HVAC system in our Queens building has been repaired and our Civil and Criminal staffs have been able to return to work in our offices. In Lower Manhattan, Criminal and Juvenile Rights staff members have been able to return to our offices at 49 Thomas Street, 350 Broadway, and 60 Lafayette and our Civil Housing Court office at 111 Centre Street has reopened. We now have restored partial telephone service at 111 Livingston Street. We are still without telephone service at several other locations. Verizon has advised us that repairs are being made at the 75 Broad Street location in Lower Manhattan where our main voice and data switch is located and we are hopeful that we will have further information by the end of the day or tomorrow regarding the restoration of full telephone service and regular internet service at all locations. In the meantime, we are implementing a process to assist staff members who have been working in offices without telephone service and have exceeded their calling plan limits for this period because of calls from clients who have had no other way to reach us. We are also activating voice service on all Legal Aid-issued Blackberries and putting spare devices into service to increase the availability of telephone service. As a reminder, because of the continued precariousness of our internet service, please remember to only use citrix when necessary for Legal Aid work and to use web email (email.legal-aid.org) instead of citrix for e-mail.

We will continue to keep you updated on these matters as we receive more information. Thank you again for your extraordinary work for clients in need during this very difficult period.