With all of the news about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) making its way into the United States, it is time for law firms to think about what they are going to do to prepare for a possible outbreak that will affect their business operations. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans need to be dusted off and updated to manage the different scenarios that may come our with over the next few months. We asked the Association of Legal Administrators interim Executive Director, April Campbell, to discuss what law firms need to be doing to prepare.
There are definite immediate and local actions that should be implemented such as:
Restrict travel to hotspots
14-day work from home policies for personnel who have traveled to those areas, or were exposed to others who may have traveled to hotspots
Stress that sick employees stay home
Explain proper handwashing techniques
And LOTS OF HAND SANITIZER
The CDC released communications resources on these actions.
While these may be common sense approaches to reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the firm’s leadership must go deeper and layout a strategic plan for what to do if the epidemic becomes a pandemic and affects the overall business operations of the firm and the firm’s clients.
There will most likely be a significant increase in those working from home. The firm needs to test the ability of the firm’s infrastructure to handle that type of stress. While many of the lawyers may be set up to work from home for a prolonged period, but what about the other employees of the firm? Are they properly trained? Do they have the right equipment? How do you manage personnel who may have never worked from home before?
There is a multitude of issues facing law firms should COVID-19 become a serious epidemic. The better prepared the firm is now, the better the firm will react should the event come to fruition. As the saying goes, no emergency should go to waste. Now is the time to act and test where the firm needs help, or where there needs to be more flexibility in business operations. If you do not have a disaster recovery plan, reach out to your colleagues in the industry to ask them for help.
If your firm has created new policies or is testing scenarios based on a COVID-19 outbreak, we’d love to hear more. Send us an email or voicemail and share your experiences.
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Special thanks to Gabriel Teninbaum for his inspiration on this issue.
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