10.3 Developing a Plan
Alberta lawyers have faced many logistical challenges over the last several years due to fires, flooding and the massive evacuation of Fort McMurray where lawyers were not able to access their offices for extended periods of time (see Disaster Recovery). We have all become more aware of the fact that lawyers who plan for emergency disruptions can continue to practice effectively from new locations in contrast to lawyers who did not ready their practices for unexpected absences.
Lawyers also become ill or face family emergencies that take them away from their offices unexpectedly. If you are a sole practitioner, how would your practice stay viable and how would you meet your clients' needs if you faced this kind of crisis?
Your duties and obligations to your clients do not cease just because you are away, for whatever reason. You need to develop a plan for how your firm would function if you have to be away, or if you cannot access your physical premises.
Planning for absence or loss, rather than merely reacting to it, is essential.
Prepare for the Unpredictable
In a special issue dedicated to Preparing for the Unpredictable, LawPRO Magazine suggests:
- Establishing a plan
- Preparing employees for the unexpected
- Protecting your premises
- Protecting your practice
Your clients’ needs must be met. Your plan will have to be tailored to the realities of your practice. What is required for a large national firm would likely be overkill for a sole practitioner; but some large firm practices might still be of use (e.g., establishing policies for backing up electronic data, creating office manuals, etc.).
LawPRO categorizes the process as:
- Preparation and prevention
Although the complexity of plans may vary, LawPRO suggests that a minimal plan should at least involve making proper backups, establishing an emergency contact list, and maintaining sufficient insurance coverage.
The two articles referred to in this lesson were prepared in 2002. However, although they are not new, their content is still relevant and helpful.