Life, and work, go on after hurricanes, personal tragedies, etc.

The idea that life goes on regardless of circumstances is an old one, and one covered in the world of entertainment – in music, on television. Sometimes it is stated as “the show must go on.” Working as a trial consultant, not entertainment, is the context of this post. Perhaps it is apropos that I’m writing this on the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, a major life interrupter in south Florida – our home base. Life, or more specifically work, went on after Andrew despite the interruptions caused by Andrew’s devastation. At the time we worked out of an office in north Miami which remained without power for about 2 weeks. Hurricanes, or major life/family traumas, never hit at a convenient time – there isn’t one. But, I recall that the storm hit as we prepared the results of a mock trial from a case in another part of Florida, one unaffected by Andrew. That client was preparing his case on a timetable which didn’t account for his jury consulting team to be operating out of a makeshift office set up at Melissa’s and my house. We got the job done, because the show must go on. I’ll never forget, however, that some people on the team we were a part of at the time did not see it that way and though they had not been personally devastated, they were unable to focus on the work – one person never returned to the team. Because we live and work in south Florida, working around hurricanes becomes familiar and we learn to find ways to make work happen. I’ve written another post about how other mock trials were impacted by storms. And, work has been interrupted by family emergencies, medical issues, or deaths in the family. But, while a client may express sympathies, or in the case of storms, may be experiencing them also, that sympathy does not mean work can be suspended. Especially when the work is on cases unaffected by the specific storm, the client needs the work completed. And, as obvious as this sounds, it has occasionally been a challenge to communicate this to employees and keep them focused. For Melissa and me though, the mantra of “the show must goes on” carries much weight. We know the importance and timeliness of our work and that the work is critical to the success of our clients. Certainly there are some events which can stop the show – but to the degree we, and our research team, can persevere, we know we have to do so.

Ironically, I am writing my part of this post on a day when south Florida is anxiously awaiting Hurricane Irma. At the time of this writing, we do not know where it will make landfall, however, we are going to prepare regardless of its exact location. Equally ironic is the fact that we have a research project scheduled for one week from now in a city that is unlikely to be impacted by this hurricane, such that our clients will give little consideration of our hurricane related woes. As David says, “the show must go on.” I remember flying out of the Miami airport a few days after Hurricane Andrew devastated south Florida. There were plastic tarps covering holes where windows used to be. I had to leave in order to work on a case for a client who was unaffected by the hurricane. When my research team and I arrived to our destination, there was nothing out of place; it was business as usual. As I recall, my client did not inquire as to how we were doing, whether we still had a place to live, or anything else about Hurricane Andrew. All he cared about, and rightfully so, I might add, was that my team and I conduct his mock jury research with the excellence required for his substantial case. There was no time for whining about our lost electrical power or anything else. We got to work and completed it in our usual highly professional manner before returning to our homes to live in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. I don’t know what will happen to all of us in south Florida when Hurricane Irma pays us a most unwelcome visit, but I am certain none of our clients will be more interested in discussing a hurricane than their multi million dollar litigation. As George Harrison so famously wrote, “Life goes on within you and without you.”

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