Effective disaster planning dictates whether your office will survive a disaster. Keep in mind that during a disaster, natural or otherwise, a lawyer’s professional and ethical obligations are not suspended.
A destructive hurricane is certainly an example of a potentially business ending event. However, the mundane (and more common) event, such as an employee termination gone awry or a computer malfunction (virus or other technology issues) can also wreak havoc on a law office. Other examples of business interrupting events might include illness or disability on your part or on the part of a key member of your office; theft or burglary; workplace violence; sudden staff changes; and trust fund theft.
Surviving a Disaster: Are You Prepared?
Disasters can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time.
- Create a Business Disaster Plan
- Important contacts
- Alternate Locations
- Important Resources and Records
- Disaster Supply Kit and Checklist
- Property Protection Checklist
- Business Recovery Checklist
- ABA Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness
- Surviving Disasters: Questions and Considerations for Law Firms Preparing Business Continuity Plans
- After Disaster Strikes: A Checklist
- New Law Practice/ New Office Checklist
- Disaster Recovery for Law Firms
- Florida Disaster Assistance Manual for Legal Services Advocates
Enhanced Benefits For Members Affected By Disasters: The Florida Bar is currently working with several member benefit providers to enhance existing offerings for members affected by Hurricane Irma, including complimentary additional services or extended complimentary trial periods.
- Fastcase legal research is now offering a full three-month complimentary access to its full research service to Bar members impacted by Hurricane Irma. Florida Bar members now have access to the full Fastcase premium library until December 20th. To access Fastcase, just follow this link to log in. If you have any questions or need support, call Fastcase at (866) 77-FASTCASE (866-773-2782) or email [email protected].
- CLIO cloud based practice management solution has agreed to offer free access to their cloud-based practice management platform for the next three months to lawyers effected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
- Ruby Receptionists virtual receptionist services is offering Florida Bar members a month of free remote receptionist service if you need assistance answering your calls.
- NetDocuments document management is providing their document management system free for 3 months.
- ServeManager is offering their process services free for 6 months including concierge service to help the members to find professionals to fulfill their filing and service of process needs.
- US Legal FormsPass subscription access to state specific legal forms.
- More than a dozen Florida Bar Member Benefit providers offer free trials or initial services, including practice resources, legal forms and legal research.
The Florida Bar has created a system to connect Florida lawyers adversely affected by the storm with other lawyers able to assist with needs such as office space called the Florida Bar Member Disaster Recovery Connection. This system will connect members with Hurricane Irma-related needs to Florida Bar members offering assistance such as temporary housing; temporary office space; office furniture, equipment or office supplies; volunteer clean-up services; legal assistance; and other resources, services or needs not listed.
Direct Contact With Prospective Clients
Florida Free Legal Answers: Although attorneys are strongly cautioned against engaging in the solicitation of hurricane victims (which is prohibited by Rule 4-7.18), the Florida Free Legal Answers program offers a relatively easy way to lend your expertise. It is easy to do, takes only a couple of minutes and can mean so much to those in need. Not only can you help answer questions from those affected by Hurricane Irma but, as a result of a Texas Supreme Court order, you also can help those still recovering in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, through February 2018 when the order is set to expire.
Solicitation includes any direct contact face-to-face, by telephone, by fax or telegraph. It includes passing out business cards or other law firm information. Lawyers cannot mail solicitations within 30 days of the disaster. Any direct mail solicitations must comply and be filed with The Florida Bar for review. Fees from solicitation, as any form of advertising that does not comply with the rules, are subject to forfeiture in cases involving solicitation or other violation of the advertising rules.
Lawyers with questions concerning whether their own future conduct violates bar rules may call the Ethics Hotline toll free at (800) 235-8619. Volunteer lawyers who are offering their services to accident victims at no charge do not violate the anti-solicitation rule.