How to Implement a Business Continuity Plan in Your Law Firm
November 5, 2021
As Calgary law firms grow, so do their information technology challenges. Ensuring the security and availability of all major systems in a law firm is critical. However, with continued growth, there’s a need to find a legal practice IT solution to keep up with ever-changing business needs.
While some firms have an IT disaster recovery plan in place, not every strategy is effective. Many plans are so complicated and unwieldy that they’re not practical for use in the event of an emergency.
According to a recent study by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council, only 27% of all organizations are doing enough to ensure business continuity in the face of a disaster.
Calgary law firms need to implement a business continuity plan that will help them maintain operations during a disaster and help them prepare for one before it strikes. Implementing a business continuity plan will help minimize damage and keep the firm running in the face of disaster.
This article will look at some real-world best practices for legal firms that want to implement a business continuity plan.
Business Impact Analysis
Your business continuity planning process will begin with a business impact analysis. This is the assessment and documentation of critical functions.
A business impact analysis can be comprehensive, but it will only be as good as your organization’s information. A few details that you’ll need to provide are:
- What systems or processes are critical to the business
- How vital is each system or process
- What level of availability do these systems require
- How much downtime can be tolerated before it becomes a problem
Be prepared to devote enough time and resources to complete this step correctly, as it is crucial to the success of your business continuity plan.
Threats and Vulnerabilities
After completing the business impact analysis, you’ll need to consider the threats facing your organization. The impact of each threat will vary. You’ll need to assess the likelihood and severity of each threat’s impact on the business and develop appropriate mitigation strategies for them.
When it comes to threats, you’ll want to consider any possible cause of disruption or interruption that could affect operations. Some common causes include:
- Natural disasters (fires, floods)
- Hazardous material spills or equipment failure
- Serious illness in crucial personnel
- Software glitches or hardware failures
- External forces (cyber attacks)
It’s also essential to take into account all points of entry to your infrastructure. Legal firms are often at risk of cyber-attacks. So you’ll need to consider all internal and external vulnerabilities.
Recovery Strategies and Contingency Plans
Once you have identified threats and defined the potential for their impact, it’s time to develop strategies that will help mitigate risk. These strategies are your contingency plans.
Your recovery strategy must be developed to focus on high availability, responsiveness, resiliency, and security.
It would be best to determine how quickly your systems need to recover so that communication can continue unimpeded. Your goal should be minimal downtime or no more than necessary for critical systems to come back online.
The speed at which data needs to be restored is also a factor. Will you need to perform complete system restores, or can you recover data from backups? You’ll want to consider this ahead of time so that there’s no interruption in your workflow.
Your contingency plans must also address all possible scenarios, no matter how unlikely. This will help ensure you’re prepared for the unexpected and that operations can continue as smoothly as possible under less than ideal circumstances.
Training and Testing
Business continuity plans are only effective if they’re put into action. Scheduling regular training sessions with relevant staff is essential to ensuring that everyone knows what to do when an emergency strikes.
A solid business continuity plan must also include testing of all systems and processes. And that means using realistic scenarios that replicate potential problems.
You don’t want to find out that your backup data isn’t in good condition during a crisis. Or that you’ve failed in communicating the proper procedures for specific situations.
Regular testing will help you identify any gaps in your plan, so they can be remedied before trouble arises. This is the only way to ensure business continuity in Calgary law firms.
Conducting Post-Disaster Reviews
After your business continuity plan has been put into action, you’ll want to follow up with your team and determine whether or not the plan was effective. Ideally, you should be able to recover data and resume business operations quickly.
As part of this discussion, you’ll also need to identify what worked well during the crisis response. You may find that parts of your business continuity plan aren’t necessary anymore after your testing session revealed them to be unnecessary.
The post-disaster review is an opportunity for improvement. Look at all angles of the crisis response so you can improve upon every aspect of the process in future situations.
Business Continuity Management Program
A business continuity management program is a holistic approach to managing and improving your company’s ability to deal with disruptions.
Business continuity management takes the focus off of short-term emergencies and puts it on long-term planning, mitigation, and preparation. Business continuity management integrates risk management, legal compliance, technology management, stakeholder communication, and more.
A business continuity plan is part of a more extensive system that you’ll want to integrate into every aspect of your firm’s operations. And that means allocating appropriate resources towards its implementation. This can be anything from hiring staff or bringing in IT consultants for advice and support.
It may also mean working with third-party vendors to ensure your company receives the highest level of service and support possible during an emergency.
Implementing a Business Continuity Plan is Beneficial for All Calgary Law Firms
As the saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That’s certainly true when it comes to business continuity planning.
By following these key steps, creating a business continuity plan will be easier than you think. Your law firm will be prepared for any situation, no matter how unlikely they are to happen. Are you a legal practice in Calgary that needs help with your business continuity plan? Hemi IT Solutions provides managed IT services for Calgary law firms.