Immigration Practice News
American Immigration Lawyers Association www.aila.org
Vol. 4 Issue 1 'THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM'
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Every Thursday, AILA's Practice & Professionalism team brings you a short, practical, and proven tip to improve your practice. Get ahead, check out the practice success tip series today!
Be Prepared: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina by Kathleen Gasparian
law. When the storm struck, my husband and I were on vacation in New York. We watched the devastation of the storm unfold on television, hundreds of miles away from our home, work, friends, and family. Aſter the levees broke, Katrina became a demarcation point in my life and the lives of almost everyone I knew. We felt powerless and helpless—feelings we would come to know very well over the weeks that followed. Nonetheless, the storm taught me how to manage my law practice effectively—in spite of any disaster.
n 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, where I practice
Watch AILA's first animation short highlighting the plight immigrant entrepreneurs face when trying to keep themselves—and their businesses—in the United States.
I had an appeal due at the Board three days aſter Katrina made landfall. From a friend's apartment in Brooklyn, with scenes of my city flooding on the television, I called the Board and explained why I would miss the deadline. The flood, fire, and
"After [Katrina], we moved our e-mail and client management system to web-based programs, and backed-up our data to a server farm in Arizona. This way, we could handle our cases from anywhere in the world. ..."
famine that struck New Orleans was incomprehensible to me, but missing a deadline was a disaster that I could try to resolve.
My husband and I made our way to my father's house near Destin, Florida. There was endless footage on CNN, but none of it revealed what was happening on my street, with my house, or to my friends. Phone calls in the 504 area code didn't work, but text messages were able to come through. Eventually, slowly, we began reconnecting with friends, colleagues, and employees.
An immense relief was that my law firm had a disaster preparedness plan in place. My then boss and now law partner, David Ware, was determined to have the law practice back up and running. At first, we did the work any way we could—from hotel rooms or homes, on cell phones and personal e-mail.
In accordance with our disaster plan, critical items had been evacuated from the office before the storm. We had our server and
data, but no computers to use. CONTINUED on pg.2 >>
THE DISASTER-READINESS ISSUE