A successful small business continuity plan (BCP) is critical for law firms to prepare for unexpected events and avoid potential liabilities. Most importantly, a successful BCP will allow your law firm to uphold your legal and ethical obligations to your clients even in the event of a disruption. That’s why planning for small business continuity is such an essential, company-wide responsibility.
In this post, we’ll discuss the basics of creating a small business continuity plan and the small business continuity tips that will set up your law firm for success.
What is a Small Business Continuity Plan?
Small business continuity is the process of either maintaining critical business functions or quickly resuming them when a major disruption occurs, such as a natural disaster, fire, flood, construction accident, or cyber attack.
A small business continuity plan covers the procedures and instructions a business must follow in the case of a disaster, including processes, assets, business partners, and more. A large portion of the plan prioritizes IT infrastructure and maintaining Internet continuity and connectivity during and after a disaster.
An effective small business continuity plan outlines what key processes should be in place to ensure your business can quickly and easily resume normal business functions in the event of a disaster.
While small business continuity planning is essential to all companies, it aims to accomplish the following objectives for law firms:
- Ensure their clients are represented competently and diligently and that their immediate needs are accommodated despite disruptions
- Maintain client confidentiality and communications
- Ensure ethical practices
- Avoid negative outcomes from missing important deadlines
- Ensure that operations continue despite reduced revenue
To ensure your law firm is completely prepared if a disaster strikes, it’s important to develop and test a small business continuity plan.
Key Elements of Business Continuity Plan Creation
There are a few elements that your law firm should include in your business continuity plan:
Data backup and recovery
Data losses and breaches are some of the most prevalent disruptions that businesses face today. In order to prevent this, a data backup strategy should be included in your business continuity plan. At a minimum, define the key steps to take when a data loss or breach occurs, the personnel responsible for executing the backup plan, and a schedule that routinely checks systems and backup data. Include details on where both primary records and backup files (both physical and electronic) are stored and provide detailed descriptions of the data backup and recovery processes required during major business disruptions.
Staff shortage plan
Staffing shortages can be caused by a range of factors, such as weather conditions and power outages. Include steps on what steps to take if there is insufficient staff to cover important operations for your firm. Whether your strategy involves hiring temporary help or bringing in support from other departments, it’s important to define this in advance.
Outline alternate communication between your clients and employees. This should include needed provisions for communicating despite an interrupted connection.
Outline where your key personnel should be located if your current office location is no longer an option due to disruption or an emergency.
Outline the steps your law firm will need to meet regulatory reporting requirements and ensure compliance during an unexpected event.
As with any type of plan, the elements that are in place must be tested on a regular basis. An outdated plan will lead to more confusion when the unexpected occurs. By reviewing, testing, and updating your continuity plan throughout the years, you can find any potential flaws and address them before they cause real issues.
If you follow these steps, your law firm will be set up for success if disaster strikes. Keep in mind that every firm is different, so you should prioritize the preparation that makes the most sense for your specific needs.