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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of February 28, 2017

Disasters: Focus on the People

Issues involving emergencies are not so much about insurance; that is only a part of it. People are the real issue. It is imperative that you purchase insurance to plan for catastrophes, but do not underestimate the role of people in any recovery.

A combination of technology and multiple offices, as would be the case with larger firms, makes catastrophic situations easier. For example, technology makes litigation matters a bit easier to handle because you can get copies of filed documents from the courthouse. Of course, this only works if the courthouse is not also impacted by the catastrophe. One of my clients had a difficult time in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina because the courthouse was under water. His good fortune was that he was not the only one in that situation and was not at the epicenter of the problem. On the other hand, he was a one-man firm, which led to greater difficulties than if he had been part of a large firm. In a large firm, the lawyers would use technology and work from home or some other facility until the main offices were restored.

All firms, though, can be successful in their efforts to deal appropriately with catastrophes. One key is recognizing the person or persons who are best equipped to deal with such situations. In one firm that I advised, the local office administrator was promoted to the position of person in charge of its national disaster recovery plan. No one in any of the firm’s offices was as good as she was in dealing with such issues.

Success in the face of catastrophe will only happen if the firm has plans in place to take care of its clients by carrying on business and to take care of its employees by establishing an employee assistance fund to help tide staff over in the event of a disaster.

The takeaway from all of this is that emergencies are a people issue.



Disasters: Focus on the People

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