Don’t Let Natural Disasters Like Hurricane Michael and Florence Wipe Out Your Law Firm

Law Firm Data RecoveryHurricane Florence And Hurricane Michael: Natural Disasters Remind Us Of The Importance Of Building A Data Recovery Plan In Your Firm.

October is Cyber-Security awareness month. In lieu of all the recent hurricane activities, in this article we’re diving into data recovery and data disaster planning. You won’t want to miss our upcoming webinar, Cyber Fortress: Protecting Your Data Empire — check it out here! From leading the discussion and acting on the demands of an “ever-changing” client base to anticipating new trends in technology to preparing for a natural disaster, many unknowns come with building and growing a law firm. Often overlooked is how to deal the threat of natural disasters like Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew (and whoever else feels like hitting North Carolina this season!) effectively.

Hurricane Michael: Destroy Decades Of Data In A Matter Of Minutes

No one truly knows when a natural disaster like Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence may strike and destroy decades of data in minutes. Natural disasters take practices and individuals by surprise and can leave you baffled, stifled and with your jaw anchored to the floor… not only from the actual disruption but also the long-term, continued recovery efforts.

If you’ve ever been in the position of having data misplaced, or heaven forbid, lost; you know the feeling of terror and frustration that go hand in hand with losing the fruits of your labor.

When your place of business no longer exists, or your offices and IT systems are inaccessible for an extended amount of time, the resulting disorder can be devastating to a law firm that is ill-prepared to respond adequately. Law firms with a response plan in place for any disaster will find they can face an unknown future and return to service before their competitors with little notice by their clients. Sadly, 90 percent of companies that undergo a natural disaster scenario without a recovery plan will go out of business within two years of the catastrophic loss. That is a staggering statistic that must not be overlooked.

What’s Your Law Firm’s Data Recovery Plan?

Are you confident in your law firm’s ability to survive and quickly continue to thrive during a natural disaster like Hurricane Florence? While you can’t control the when in a disaster scenario, you can proactively guard your firm from the catastrophic aftermath. Beyond the essential step of scheduling regular cloud data backups, here are three foundational principles of disaster recovery that will ensure your accounting firm is prepared to respond effectively in a worst-case scenario.

Corporate Agility: How Fast Will Your Business Bounce Back From A Hurricane?

It’s one thing to experience an emergency as a partner or executive in a firm – you’re likely to understand how to respond and are prepared to execute on a strategy that puts the needs of the firm first. But, how confident are you that your employees would know what to do? Most employees are not prepared for handling a natural disaster.


If your natural disaster strategy goes something like this, we might need to talk!


No Winging It Here.

One of the most important elements for disaster recovery training for a firm is to build a response strategy, so employee expectations and guidelines are clear. Employees need to understand who to call, where to report and what to do if the office is jeopardized. Employees also need to be familiar with the subtleties of how those directions may vary in response to different crisis situations. When employees are informed and sure about what to do, your team is positioned to respond to natural disasters with speed and agility.

Data Protection: Guard It Like Your Job Depended On It…Because It Does

Law firms like yours continuously think about data protection solely regarding storage and backup. To which, yes, driving data backup to the cloud will help dodge the catastrophic loss of law firm and customer data, but unless the law firm’s risk of losing access to data, along with the programs used to work with that data is mentioned, then an unmarked problem remains.

Like an ankle-biting small dog, loss of physical hardware, like computers and servers, in a disaster does not need to be an issue in the first place when your law firm partners with the right IT Support service provider.

Protecting Your Law Firm From Data Loss: 3-Pronged Solution

Genuinely defending your company from being knocked offline (and possibly out of business) during a natural disaster requires a three-pronged strategy:

  1. Protection Of Your Data
  2. Virtualization Of Your IT Tools
    1. This includes workstations, servers and other technology tools you depend on to drive your business forward. Why should you go virtual, and cloud-based? Protected data in “the cloud” can be restored into the last good state of a virtualized IT network, so your firm operations are rapidly reinstated free of ties to legacy hardware or a specific location. While this seems daunting, there are straightforward steps you can perform before an emergency strikes.
  3. Partnering with a true managed services provider who has your back and can offer expert guidance for crisis prevention and strategy.
    1. Having a managed services provider partner in your natural disaster and data protection program can be an immeasurable benefit for your business. Many business owners put it upon themselves (and their office administrators: read Why Letting Your Staff Deal With IT Issues Doesn’t Save You Money) to wear so many different hats, but in reality hiring an expert in data recovery is a critical way you can protect and prevent data loss before it ever has the possibility of happening.

The Short List: Decisions And Processes That Need To Be Made Prepping For The Next Hurricane

Here’s the short list of processes and decisions to think about around the next emergency situation to make sure your business has a quick and complete recovery:

  • Do you have a tested, tried-and-true disaster recovery response plan? (Not just the aforementioned winging-it plan?)
  • Have you built that plan with a tried and true managed services provider for your recovery plan?
  • Have workers been trained to avoid disaster-related scams and phishing tactics? If not, check out our summary on How To Avoid Falling Victim To An Email Phishing Scam
  • Is data stored entirely online or, if in physical servers, in multiple, geographically spread out places?
  • Do employees know how data is prioritized and what data will be recovered first?

“Hurricade”: Business Disruption Solutions During A Hurricane

Some disruption to your business is inevitable during and immediately after a natural disaster. Clearly, in an emergency the immediate safety of your clients and employees should take priority. However, the real test of being prepared for a natural disaster is how well your organization channels and troubleshoots “hurricane hiccups” with your IT Support provider and gets back to serving and supporting clients.

4 Ways Your Law Firm Can Side-Step The Confusion That Comes With The Next Natural Disaster:

  1. Invest in a managed services provider who can partner in protecting and storing your data and support you pre-through-and-post emergency.
  2. Regularly verify that off-site documents and virtual systems are up-to-date and functional.
  3. Train your employees to respond, not just react, in the most common emergency situations that might affect your type of business and location. See our webinar: Investing In Your Employee’s Development
  4. Test your natural disaster recovery plan annually to ensure directions are clear and easy to understand in a real emergency.

No one can predict, control or prevent natural disasters, but you can prepare and mitigate consequences by creating a contingency plan, now. Construct that plan on principles of agility, data protection and elimination of reliance on one location or one computer, server or hardware device. Through partnering with a reliable and authentic Managed Services Provider, your disaster response plan will drastically change the odds of any single point of collapse. There is no “point of no return” when it comes to taking preventative measures before disaster strikes, especially when it comes to protecting your data and your IT equipment and collateral. As soon as you, your employees and families are safe, you can implement your response plan you created with your managed services provider and be back in business. After all, it’s the peace of mind in knowing you’ll be the first to recover your normal daily operations in the aftermath of a crisis that helps business owners elevate their thinking from putting-out-fires to forward thinking, creating that edge over their competitors. Be sure to catch our upcoming webinar, Cyber Fortress: Protect Your Data Empire to learn more practical ways you can protect your business’ data and learn more disaster recovery strategies here.

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