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IBA: Disaster Recovery Planning Can't Afford to Wait

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Lawyers are known for giving advice that helps clients plan, but when it comes to planning for a disaster and recovery, legal professionals need to take their own advice and create a plan. All lawyers need to plan for how their firms will cope with natural or man-made disasters ranging from fires and floods to terrorist attacks, hurricanes, chemical explosions or blizzards.

For a law firm, the disaster recovery plan should suit its size, type of practice and locale. And, while it is easy to depend on technology, the human element is the most important part of the plan. That’s because without talented people focused on client needs, a law practice does not exist.

The reason for planning is clear: lawyers need to be able to help themselves so they can help their clients. Just as a firm reaches out to employees by e-mail, cell phone and the firm’s Web site, it should reach out to clients who may be in a state of crisis themselves and welcome the support and reassurance.

Depending on the nature of the emergency — a fire in your building, for example, in which case, your firm may be the only one affected — you still may be expected to meet filing deadlines and court appearances. Under those circumstances reaching out to clients to let them know that you are looking out for them despite the disaster is essential.

If the disaster is more widespread, such as Hurricane Katrina, the floods in the Tennessee or high winds that shut down your building, everyone — attorneys, employees, and clients — may feel the effects. Just accounting for employees and clients may take time.

A firm may want to consider setting up a team to take charge during a disaster. Team members should include management and administrative personnel. The plan should outline contingency operations, how staff will locate each other and how they will communicate with other employees. Having a plan in place will help avoid making reactive decisions. Telling all employees about the plan is key.

For more on disaster recovery planning log on to www.indybar.org or contact Indianapolis Bar Association Executive Director Julie Armstrong at jarmstrong@indybar.org.•

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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