Today is June 1st, and those of us in Florida and many other coastal areas around the country are well aware what that signifies: It’s the beginning of hurricane season.
Of course, there are many steps to keep you and your loved ones safe. American Red Cross provides tons of extremely helpful links that cover everything from setting up an evacuation plan, stocking up on supplies, protecting your home, and making sure that you have an emergency kit (including a separate one for pets) ready to go. The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA provide other useful information, too.
However, what about your law firm? How do you keep your office up and running when a hurricane (or other natural disaster) strikes? Here’s how:
Have a plan.
Hurricanes don’t just arrive out of nowhere…you can watch one for days, getting a decent idea of whether or not one is headed your way. If it seems like a hurricane might strike near your office, consider leaving town for a few days. Also, you might want to get at least some key employees out of dodge, too. Where to go? Your best bet: Head at least 20 to 50 miles inland.
Account for power loss.
Even if a hurricane doesn’t hit you directly, you could still lose power. Possibly consider investing in a generator or finding a friend who has one (and crashing at their place) so you can still get some work done until the power goes back on. Or course, you must keep generators outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors. Keep them away from moisture and never attempt to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet. The American Red Cross has a lot of helpful info on finding a generator and keeping safe when using one.
Get in the cloud.
One of the biggest benefits of legal practice management software such as Rocket Matter is that all of your work is safe in the cloud. When you keep all your documents on-premise, they are always susceptible to hurricanes, other natural disasters, and theft. In other words, you could lose all your work! However, when all of your work is stored remotely in the cloud, you don’t have to worry. If the unthinkable happens and you’re using Rocket Matter, for instance, you still have access to your calendar, tasks, and all pertinent information regarding every single case you’re working on.
Back up your work.
Of course, you still need to back your work up properly. One of the first attorney populations to start scanning their files were the New Orleans attorneys in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They experienced firsthand the devastation of losing their original documents. But it’s not enough just to scan: An equally critical part is getting those digital files to a different geographic location. Here are three options:
- You can use a dedicated cloud-based document management system, such as Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive. There are also legal-specific ones such as Worldox and NetDocuments, which are more sophisticated and include robust workflow and metadata support.
- Save money by leveraging a cloud-based practice management program with document storage built in. Products such as Rocket Matter have document storage built in to their legal workflows. Typically, digital files stored in these applications can be shared with clients through portals. Additionally, you should be able to leverage document automation features (such as Rocket Matter’s document assembly) that allow you to quickly produce your standard documents.
- Employ a straight-up digital backup storage device. Services like Mozy, Crashplan, or Carbonite can monitor your folder structures and continually back up your files. If you want to mostly work with files inside your computer network and are looking for a passive backup, this might be the easiest way to do things. Keep in mind, storage is very cheap these days so you shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money for your business continuity plans.