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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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