Welcome to Part 2 of our latest blog post series on business resiliency for law firms. In Part 1 we discussed why it’s important to plan for future disruption and explored the many benefits of doing so. I explained that business resiliency planning is a long term investment in your law firm and ensures that regardless of the situation, your firm is able to get up and running quickly and operate smoothly and efficiently in the weeks and months following a disaster.
Now that you understand the importance and value of a business resiliency plan, the next step is to create one that is tailor made for your firm’s needs. In this post we’ll focus on the first part of that process. Specifically, we’re going to hone in on the first priority, which is to establish a business resiliency planning team. That team will identify your firm’s goals, and start the process of planning for the unexpected.
Set up a business resiliency team
Now that your firm has identified planning for future disruption as a top issue to address, you’ll need to establish a committee to create your plan. The committee will serve a similar function to the one you set up when you planned for your firm’s reopening: namely, it will serve as the central hub for resiliency planning. It should consist of key stakeholders in your firm, and its size will be dependent on the size of your firm. The smaller your firm, the smaller the committee, and vice versa. Some committees may consist of only two partners, while others may consist of a law office manager, a member of your firm’s IT team, and key law firm managing partners, among others.
Once created, the planning committee will be tasked with creating your law firm’s business resiliency plan. First and foremost, the committee will need to draw up a plan. The committee will also be charged with ensuring that everything is in place for the plan to be implemented when needed. This means that, among other things, the committee will need to develop and update, as needed, internal policies and procedures relating to the plan. Also of importance is ensuring that the firm has the necessary technology tools in place so that all offices can continue to seamlessly operate under any and all circumstances. Finally, the committee should establish a communications plan so that they can easily communicate with legal and support staff with one voice regarding the plan and set forth clear expectations for its implementation.
Determine your firm’s goals
The very first task that the committee will need to tackle is to identify your law firm’s objectives. The committee will need to take a hard look at your firm’s business priorities and determine mission critical systems and processes that will need to be in place in order for your firm to continue operating even in the midst of uncertainty. This means that your firm will need to assess its technology arsenal and all critical business functions – such as operations, human resources, and public relations – and determine which ones will need to continue to function in the immediate aftermath of a disaster or other unplanned event.
Of course, to do that, the committee will need to identify the top threats to its business continuity. Some of those threats are universal, such as a pandemic, cyberattack, or utility outages. Others will be more specific to the geographic regions in which your firm’s offices are located. For example, many potential natural disasters will vary greatly depending on location. So the committee will need to identify the natural disasters most likely to strike your offices and affect your firm’s operations, and how to respond to them.
Once the committee has done this, it will be better able to determine your firm’s top goals and priorities, which will necessarily inform the process of creating your firm’s business resiliency plan. Because every law firm is different — the goals will vary from firm to firm. With that in mind, the committee’s top objective at the outset will be to prioritize the processes that are the fundamental to your firm’s day-to-day operations and the goal will be to keep those processes running smoothly no matter what happens. Once identified, these objectives will guide: 1) how the committee assesses potential risks, 2) the creation of the firm’s business resiliency planning process, and 3) its determination of potential recovery strategies.
In other words, these goals are important since they will necessarily inform every step the committee takes, from drafting the business resiliency plan, updating it as needed, and implementing it. In next week’s post we’ll talk about the essential elements of a business resiliency plan, so make sure to check back then.
In the meantime, you can watch the video recording of our most recent webinar for lots of great advice on preparing your firm for whatever the future brings: “How to Safeguard Your Law Firm Against Future Disruption.”