Developing a Plan

Lawyers deal in information, rules, procedures, and timelines. This reality does not cease to exist when you go on vacation, fall ill, or when unexpected disaster (such as fire) occurs. Planning for absence or loss, rather than merely reacting to it, is essential. While it is daunting for a sole practitioner or small firm to plan for continuity in the event of catastrophic loss, it is worth noting that the very size of the firm allows for a measure of flexibility that might not be present in a large firm environment.

Methodology to Prepare for the Unpredictable

In a special issue dedicated to preparing for the unpredictable, LawPRO Magazine (see the Additional Resources section for details) identifies a fourfold methodology:

  1. Establish a plan.
  2. Prepare employees for the unexpected.
  3. Protect your premises.
  4. Protect your practice.

Your clients’ needs must be met. Your plan will have to be tailored to the realities of your practice. What is required for a large national firm would likely be overkill for a sole practitioner; but some large firm practices might still be of use (e.g., establishing policies for backing up electronic data, creating office manuals, etc.).

PracticePRO (see the Additional Resources section for details) categorizes the process as:

  1. Preparation and prevention.
  2. Response.
  3. Resumption.
  4. Recovery.

Although the complexity of plans may vary, PracticePRO suggests that a minimal plan should at least involve making proper backups, establishing an emergency contact list, and maintaining sufficient insurance coverage.