Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

A Disaster Plan for Your Law Firm is a Click Away

When you think of disasters that can disrupt your practice, you probably imagine hurricanes, floods and other large-scale events.

But small-scale interruptions – from a power outage to a computer crash – can cause major headaches as well.

“Hiding from the possibility that a disaster will affect your business is the worst approach to take,” says the US Chamber of Commerce. “Doing nothing leaves you with unnecessary vulnerability.”

Solo and small law firms lose an average of $3,000 in revenue per day after a disaster, according to Chamber of Commerce statistics. That figure rises to $23,000 per day for medium-sized firms. Many firms will be forced to close within two years.

And here’s worst part: fewer than 2 in 10 small businesses have an effective disaster continuity plan. If you’re among that 20 percent, a pair of valuable resources are just a click away.

The Chamber of Commerce has published a downloadable Resilience in a Box PDF checklist containing 20 steps to protect your operations, people, data, buildings, equipment and brand.

And Lawyers Mutual offers a free “Disaster Planning and Recovery” guide filled with tips, pointers and a sample office policy.

Resilience in a Box

Here are six ways to minimize the risk of a disaster striking your firm, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce:

  1. Form a planning team. “No one person knows everything about your business, so it’s crucial to create a team of people who will make sure you are addressing all of your critical elements.”
  2. Gather critical information. “Organize the key documents that help you make decisions, such as legal documents, insurance policies, and lease agreements. Store this critical info in more than one format, for example, hard copies in a file folder and electronic versions in the cloud.”
  3. Prioritize your critical operations. “This will help you prioritize which pieces of your business must be brought back most urgently to minimize loss. Think only about how things work under normal, everyday conditions. Put the critical tasks in order of what has to happen first, second, and so on.”
  4. Identify your hazards. “The most likely disasters to hit a business are a power outage and a fire. Identifying your hazards while you still have the luxury of the lights being on and the computers running allows you to think through how vulnerabilities could disrupt or delay your business operations.”
  5. Write a simple plan. “Create your own plan or use a resource such as the Resilience in a Box Remember, a complicated plan is not a realistic plan.”
  6. Create a “go” bag. “Have a hard copy of your disaster plan in a grab-and-go case, along with any relevant documents you may need during and after a disaster – such as floor plans, lease agreements, insurance policies, and employee contact lists.”

Lawyers Mutual Disaster Planning Resource Guide

“Disasters can strike at any time and can come in many different forms. Hurricanes come with advanced warning allowing time to prepare; others happen so quickly they are over before you have time to think. No matter what type of disaster you face, careful planning can make surviving more likely.

Proper leadership makes surviving a disaster easier. Avoiding or reducing the severity of disasters begins with assessing the risks associated with location and office procedures. Once risks are assessed, the disaster recovery plan can be developed so that processes for minimizing damage and recovering afterwards can be established.”

Key steps:

  • Designate a leader
  • Assess your security risk
  • Assess your physical damage risk
  • Evaluate your plan
  • Regroup
  • Return to normalcy


The LM Practice Guide includes Sample Safety and Security Procedures, Law Office Policy and Procedures Manual, “After Disaster Strikes” Checklist, Disaster Information and Contact List, Books, Manuals and Online Resources.


Download the LM Disaster Recovery Practice Guide here.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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