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.
- ABA Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness
- Disaster Recovery for Law Firms
- Surviving Disasters: Questions and Considerations for Law Firms Preparing Business Continuity Plans
- After Disaster Strikes: A Checklist
- Florida Disaster Assistance Manual for Legal Services Advocates
- New Law Practice/ New Office Checklist
- Florida Small Business Development Council – Business Disaster Recovery Services
Direct Contact With Prospective Clients
Florida Bar members are strongly cautioned against engaging in solicitation of hurricane victims. Solicitation, whether by the lawyer personally or by someone else on his or her behalf, is prohibited. Read Rule 4-7.18 from the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. 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.