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Disaster Planning: Resources for Solo + Small Law Practices

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used in place of professional advice, treatment, or care in any way. Lawyers, law students, judges, and other legal professionals in Massachusetts can find more on scheduling a Free & Confidential appointment with a licensed clinician here.

It’s normal for us to think we’re unlikely to be affected by a disaster, but the climate is changing and so are our odds. If you aren’t on top of disaster planning in your law practice, don’t wait.


The end of August means hurricane season. And after hurricane season is over — it’s cyclobomb time again in Massachusetts. Our geographic area has tended to be more fortunate than others — but with blizzards by a new name, tornadoes, and unprecedented floods in recent years, we cannot bank on avoiding disasters. Don’t wait one more season during this pace of climate change to make plans for your law practice to continue operations after a disaster — natural or otherwise.

The ABA updated its Disaster Resources earlier this month. With contributions from Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway, the ABA has responded to the increase in disaster impact with the following:

One of the best places to start your disaster plan is with your backup system. Backups are essential to prevent disruption to your practice. Find more on backing up your data here in the Backup Systems section of our Law Practice Startup Guide. We cover backup strategies, restoring data, and products — both physical drives and cloud services. Once you have backup systems taken care of, a thorough disaster plan isn’t far off. The following resources cover everything from a sample Business Continuity Plan to a post-disaster checklist:

Safeguard Your Files: Basics from Findlaw.

Surviving a Disaster: A Lawyer’s Guide to Disaster Planning (2011) from the American Bar Association: An overview, the phases, and the components of business continuity planning, along with a sample Business Continuity Plan.

Managing Practice Interruptions from PracticePro: This booklet provides a comprehensive review of the steps you can take to prepare for unexpected minor and major practice interruptions, and how you should respond to them. It reviews what you have to do to protect your people, your practice, and your premises and property.

Firm Emergency Vulnerability Evaluation Chart (PDF or Excel) from PracticePro: This chart will help you assess where your greatest vulnerabilities are. The first step is identifying the various types of emergencies you might face. Next you determine the probability and potential impacts of each emergency. You can then determine where your greatest vulnerabilities are by multiplying the values you have assigned for probability and impacts. Lastly, you are able to evaluate the internal and external resources you have in place to respond to the emergencies to which you have your greatest vulnerabilities. Once you identified your greatest vulnerabilities, you can then work to reduce them.

Disaster Resources for Lawyers & Law Firms (2018) from the American Bar Association shares technology resources from ABA Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC) and further law practice management considerations, including consulting state Law Office Management Assistance Programs and Lawyer Assistance Programs — we serve as both in Massachusetts. Find more on scheduling Free & Confidential consultations here.

After Disaster Strikes Checklist from the Oregon State Bar.

SBA Loans: The US Small Business Administration provides low-interest disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters.

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Three previous posts on our blog now redirect here, “Disaster Recovery Resources for Lawyers Affected by Recent Tornadoes,” “Postdiluvian and the Baling Out: Flood Recovery Resources for Lawyers,” and “Preparing for a Disaster.”

CATEGORIES: Law Office Management & Operations | Technology
TAGS: file retention & disaster planning / recovery | Risk Management

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