Does your law firm have a business continuity plan?
If not, you’ve just added another item to your to-do list.
Without a business continuity plan (BCP), you’re putting the future of your law practice at risk. A well-designed plan does several things:
- Ensures that all your client data and sensitive information is backed up and protected.
- Implements firm-wide processes to prepare your entire workforce for potential disasters, both natural and man-made.
- Brings peace of mind.
“But most importantly, a successful BCP allows your firm to live up to its legal and ethical obligations to your employees and clients by continuing to operate efficiently even in the event of a disruption,” according to Agility Recovery. “The most successful BCPs take a divide-and-conquer approach. Employees at your firm need to be educated that the responsibility for staying afloat during a disruption does not fall solely on the shoulders of the information technology (IT) department. Senior management must also reinforce the notion that business continuity is an organizational responsibility, and because everyone is impacted by a disruption, everyone must contribute to your firm’s recovery. This is why a tightly unified planning process involving each business unit’s plans and roles in the resumption of essential processes must be developed.”
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4 Steps to Business Continuity Planning
Here are four steps to get you started on your own BCP, courtesy of Agility Recovery:
1. Assess and Prioritize Potential Threats for a Business
As the initial stage of forming a disaster preparedness plan for your business, you need to identify which situations or events pose the most risk to it. Different scenarios may pose different threats to your business continuity, but they all can paralyze your processes.
Do you have secure protection against cyberattacks? Do you and your employees know what to do if there’s an active shooter situation in your office? Who is responsible for communication during an emergency?
2. Create a Disaster Preparedness Plan
The best way to create a dependable and organized plan is to have a designated person for this task. This person will be responsible for designing such a plan, but you, as a business owner, should specify what to include in it.
- Does your business continuity specialist need a supporting team? When it comes to large businesses with different departments, it’s helpful to have a team working on securing business continuity. Each department has its unique processes and regulations; that’s why it’s crucial to eliminate the guesswork and have someone from each team to represent their interest.
- What’s the scope of your plan? The goal of a good disaster preparedness plan is to ensure your employees’ safety, the stability of your work location, and continuity of your work processes. Defining the scope of your plan will help everyone involved to stay focused.
- The basic elements of a plan include: An evacuation plan; Crisis comms plan, detailing emergency contact information; Who’s responsible for shutting all equipment down or performing other essential final functions; Any other special instructions.
3. Take action
The goal is to identify what can be done now before a crisis strikes. This includes an emergency communication plan; an emergency kit; training and testing exercises, such as tabletop exercises.
All of your employees must be trained on how to evacuate the building, where to get information in case of emergency or business interruption, and know how to access general safety information. Your business continuity team needs to be trained on their roles and responsibilities described in a plan. The same goes for your crisis comms team, which needs to be fully trained on developing specific messaging for different situations.
4. Refine and Test Your BCP
No plan, regardless of how thorough it is, is no good unless it’s regularly reviewed and updated. Your business is a continually evolving entity. That’s why, at every step of the way, your disaster preparedness plan needs to adapt to your company’s needs.
The end of the year is a stressful time for everyone, but it’s especially stressful for lawyers and legal professionals. Closing out case matters, completing Q4 financials, shopping for presents, making holiday plans. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. The key to easing your stress could be Micro Self-Care. What’s Micro Self-Care? Attend our annual wellness webinar “What is Micro Self-Care and Why Do You Need It?” on December 14 and find out. The presenter, Michael Kahn, is a JD and licensed therapist who concentrates in treating lawyers struggling with stress, depression, substance use disorders, and other career issues. This free, one-hour webinar is the latest in Alta Pro’s ongoing series of cutting-edge legal education programs. Sign up here.