Preparing for Emergencies

Some aspects of emergency planning will be common to any firm, large or small, such as establishing policies for backing up electronic data or creating office manuals. However, the plan for a solo or small firm will not be the same as the plan for a large national firm. Your plan will be tailored to the realities of your practice. 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.

In a special issue called Managing Practice Interruptions, dedicated to preparing for the unpredictable, LawPRO Magazine identifies a fourfold methodology to prepare for unexpected absences:

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

Foremost in your plan will be ensuring protection of your clients’ interests. In doing so, you’ll be protecting yourself as well.

PracticePRO (Ontario’s professional liability insurer for lawyers) further suggests that a recovery and continuity plan address the following:

Although the complexity of plans may vary, we suggest that a minimal plan should at least involve:

  • Preparing an office procedures manual,
  • making regular and proper backups,
  • maintaining an up-to-date emergency contact list, and
  • maintaining sufficient insurance coverage.