Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Inclement Weather May Pose Risk for Closing Attorneys

You may or may not know that September is National Preparedness Month, as state and local disaster agencies urge us to plan ahead for hurricanes, fires and floods.

But what you definitely should know is that inclement weather could change the operating hours and procedures of government offices – and this could affect your cases in profound ways.

As this post was being written, Hurricane Florence was gathering strength in the Atlantic and charting a direct path for the Carolinas. The Outer Banks are already being evacuated.

Obviously, a storm of this magnitude poses safety concerns. But other consequences can ripple out and affect your daily work in less obvious ways.

For example, in expectation of Florence’s arrival, Orange County Register of Deeds Mark Chilton posted the following message on Facebook:

“Attorneys and Realtors, please be careful with insurance this week. A deal is not closed until the docs are recorded! The ROD office hours may be affected by Hurricane Florence later this week. DO NOT CANCEL INSURANCE PREMATURELY!

There was someone who signed closing documents late on 5 Sep 1996 expecting to record the next morning - only to find the Register did not open again for days...and meanwhile his insurance lapsed at midnight on the 5th...about an hour before Hurricane Fran hit Orange County.”

Four Steps to Security

The emphasis of National Preparedness Month is on preparation and prevention. The first step is to talk about what you will do if disaster strikes and then come up with a plan to protect your home and business. The month is broken down into four phases:

Week 1: Make and Practice Your Plan

Week 2: Learn Life Saving Skills

Week 3: Check Your Insurance Coverage

Week 4: Save For an Emergency

These four steps are a good starting point for creating a general loss prevention plan that covers other types of threats and risks.

A big consideration is safeguarding your computer systems and data. The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team has tips, checklists and links to help you batten down your digital hatches.

Handling Emergency Legal Problems

Lawyers Mutual has a program called HELP that is designed to offer assistance in unanticipated crises.

What would happen to your practice in the event of a medical emergency? Who would take care of your cases and clients? What about if your law partner unexpectedly retires – or dies?

Lawyers Mutual’s HELP team might be part of the solution. Led by the company’s in-house claims attorneys and outside counsel, the team has the training and resources to guide you through difficult professional times:

  • We will assess your crisis situation.
  • We will come up with a plan.
  • We will HELP make sure your clients are not harmed.

Every law practice is different. Every crisis is different. Don’t be afraid to ask for HELP.

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About the Author

Jay Reeves

jay.reeves@ymail.com | 919-619-2441

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Over the course of his 35-year career he was a solo practitioner, corporate lawyer, legal editor, Legal Aid staff attorney and insurance risk manager. Today he helps lawyers and firms put more mojo in their practice through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations.

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