Practice Interruptions

How to Prepare For Practice Interruptions Due to COVID-19

If your firm has disaster or business continuity plans in place for your workplaces, you should review these now and consider to what extent the plan(s) should be implemented at this time.

If you do not have such plans in place, or existing plans do not adequately address the concerns raised by COVID-19, you should consider reviewing the below resources and following the recommended planning steps:

Specific practice management considerations for lawyers and law firms preparing for practice interruptions in the context of COVID-19 include:

Working from Home:

If lawyers or staff choose to work remotely from home as part of their plans, they should consider whether all the key information they require is readily accessible and current. This includes client contact information, client files, staff and service provider contact information, bank account information, and passwords for personal and staff voicemail, computers and emails.

Lawyers should also consider how they will:

  • keep client information confidential from family members or others, including:
    • securing physical files and documents when they are not being worked on;
    • password protecting computers and external hard-drives that contain client confidential information;
    • considering whether home computers and/or home networks are sufficiently secure from viruses, ransomware, etc.; and
    • considering how you might secure work completed from home on any offsite backup drives or networks.
  • communicate with clients;
  • secure and receive deliveries to their offices;
  • continue to delegate to, and appropriately supervise staff;
  • ensure that staff are able to maintain confidentiality in doing so.

Illness or Absence of Lawyer or Staff:

In the event that lawyers are unable to continue to manage their practice due to illness, they should have a succession plan in place.

Review and update your succession plan to ensure that all of the information is as up-to-date as possible and covers long-term, short-term and permanent leaves from practice, including current computer login & password information.

See the Law Society Succession Planning Information

Lawyers should also consider what specific tasks are impacted if staff are unable to attend the office and ensure that coverage is provided so that clients are not prejudiced.

Ongoing Communication:

If lawyers or firms are changing their business hours, if alternative means of communication will be used or there will be delays to communication, or if other changes to firm operations are anticipated, this information should be communicated to clients and staff as soon as practicable. Lawyers may consider using email updates, notices on their websites, or other means, as appropriate, based on the needs of their clients and staff.

We also encourage you to continue to access our staff for ethical and practical advice and opinions via email.  For contact information or for news and practice resources to assist you in the days and weeks ahead, please monitor our website.