Being Prepared: Disaster Recover Is All About People

Published May/June 2008, Legal Management

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There are two types of law firms: those that have experienced a disaster, and those that will. "Disaster" for a law firm is not a question of if, but rather of when. The only unknowns are the type of disaster, when it will occur, and how bad it will be. Hurricanes or disease epidemics are disasters, but so too are a burst water pipes or computer system meltdowns to the unprepared.

Law firms that plan for disaster remain the exception rather than the rule, but even these firms typically make two mistakes. First, they focus on common threats, patting themselves on the back if they maintain proper fire safeguards, keep the firm insured, and arrange for regular backups of key data files. This thinking fails to account for a true catastrophe, such as a Hurricane Katrina or a terrorist attack.

But an even bigger flaw in disaster planning is to focus on things – on alarm systems, backup servers, insurance policies. Such a focus is doomed to failure because disaster and recovery planning is ultimately about people. Making sure that a firm's people are involved and prepared is the best way to make sure that the law firm survives.

Administrators responsible for disaster recovery planning should keep these people concerns uppermost in mind.

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