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The importance of planning for law firm resiliency during COVID-19

Stacked3Here is a recent Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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The importance of planning for law firm resiliency during COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in some parts of the country, you’re likely wondering about the future of your law firm and its book of business. One way to abate those concerns is to prioritize preparing your firm for whatever may come. Make sure you’re never caught flat-footed and take steps to ensure business resiliency no matter what happens. Why? Because that’s the only way to ensure future success and stability.

Prior to COVID-19,  you may have thought that this type of disaster was unlikely to happen to your law firm. But now that we’re in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, are you really willing to take that chance again? That’s why it makes sense to plan for the future disruption, whether due to the pandemic or otherwise. Because, if nothing else, this pandemic has shown us that it never hurts to prepare for the unexpected.

Part of preparing for uncertainty includes building business resiliency into your law firm.  Business resilience ensures that your law firm is able to quickly pivot and adapt to unexpected  disruptions, thus allowing it to continue to operate and represent your clients’ interests even in the face of uncertainty. A major part of resiliency planning includes assessing risks to your firm’s business in the event that different types of disruptions occur.

Business resiliency is more than simply an emergency response plan. The end goal is to ensure that not only does your firm get up and running quickly, but that it is also able to operate smoothly and efficiently in the weeks and months following a disaster without skipping a beat. While this may seem like an overwhelming – or even impossible – task, it’s actually more attainable than you might think, especially if your law firm has a solid plan in place that includes the necessary technology.

The very first task you’ll need to undertake in building business resiliency into your firm is to assess its technology arsenal and ensure that you have the cloud-based software tools in place that will allow everyone in your law firm to seamlessly communicate and collaborate from any location no matter what the circumstances. Once you’ve done that you’ll need to consider all critical business functions – such as operations, human resources, and public relations – and determine which ones will need to continue to function in the immediate aftermath of a disaster or other unplanned event.

Next, you’ll need to identify the top threats to its business continuity. Some of those threats are universal, such as a pandemic, cyberattack, or utility outages. Others will be more specific to the geographic regions in which your firm’s offices are located. For example, many potential natural disasters will vary greatly depending on location. So you’ll need to determine the natural disasters most likely to strike your offices and affect your firm’s operations and how to respond to them. Once you’ve done that, you’ll better able to determine your firm’s top goals and priorities, which will necessarily inform the process of creating your firm’s business resiliency plan.

As we’ve learned from the current pandemic, it’s impossible to predict when uncertainty will strike, whether because of a natural disaster or otherwise. That’s why it’s pivotal to have a business resiliency plan in place. You’ll be laying a foundation that will allow your firm to survive and thrive down the road, no matter what obstacles you encounter. So what are you waiting for? Invest in your firm’s future by creating a business resiliency plan today.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase  law practice management software for small law firms. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at niki.black@mycase.com.