In the aftermath of a disaster, attorneys may be inundated with urgent legal questions from disaster survivors. However, legal service providers may also be disrupted or devastated by the disaster. They must find a way to efficiently restore operations to meet these pressing legal needs.
That’s why it is critical for legal service providers to develop a continuity of operations plan, or COOP. A COOP facilitates post-disaster recovery by providing the road map to follow before, during, and after an emergency. A COOP should:
- Include a clear hierarchy of decision-making authority.
- Identify primary and backup staff members who will handle specific tasks.
- Identify alternative work locations.
- Address the range of resources staff members may need.
- Prioritize the most pressing needs.
- Require safeguarding hard copies of important documents and routinely backing them up to remote servers, so that they are preserved and access to them can be maintained.
- Establish multiple communications channels to preserve lines of communication in various scenarios, like loss of electricity, cellular service, or internet access.
- Undergo annual updates to account for lessons learned, changes in technology, and changes in law or policy.
- Reflect risks, hazards, and vulnerabilities specific to the geographic area and facility.
This is only a sampling of all the elements that should be considered. See additional resources that provide examples and advices for developing these critical plans.