Four Essential Steps for Developing and Maintaining a Firm Continuity Plan

Law firms hold sensitive client data and other information that must be protected at all costs. From a cyber attack to flooding, fires, and other natural disasters, too often firms don’t consider the impact these scenarios can have on operations until it’s too late. With a Firm Continuity Plan, foresight can be 20/20.

The purpose of the plan is to comprehensively explain the actions the firm must take before, during, and after a disaster for the firm to recover. The plan should made known to all employees and IT partners through regular trainings, so that each person is ready to act.

Implementing the following strategies is crucial to being able to recover efficiently and swiftly.

1.) Develop a Resilient Plan

While all the intricate details that should be included in an effective continuity plan won’t fit in this article, a great place to start is by identifying critical functions and the firm’s greatest risk potential. For example, ask: “what can we not function without?” Consider most-likely worst-case scenarios and everything in between. Then consider how your firm can remain resilient in the event these scenarios play out. For example: what happens when staff loses access to data stored in the cloud; they get locked out of their email; the office is flooded or data is compromised in a breach?

Next, firms must determine the amount of time lost that is potentially sustainable. As part of this analysis, track how much downtime costs the firm. Measure how quickly the firm can return to ‘business as usual’ – and adapt the plan as needed.

Plans must include a communications strategy that clearly details how both internal and external crisis communication will be handled if disruption occurs. It is also important to provide your team with guidelines on how to inform and update clients on the status of the disruption.

Developing an effective plan requires research and preparation. Your managed service provider should help develop a plan that includes best legal industry practices but is also unique to your firm.

2.) Practice Annual Reviews

In our experience, we’ve found that small and mid-sized firms do not have continuity plans in place whatsoever. Larger firms are more likely to have continuity plans. What Frontline has learned when we perform Law Firm Cyber Risk Score Assessments is that many firms have plans, but often do not review these plans on an annual basis rendering them ineffective when disaster strikes.

It’s crucial to review the policy on an annual basis. Your technology provider should be having quarterly review meetings with you to review security and industry trends.

3.) Cybersecurity Requirements

Due to the growing threat of data breaches, most cybersecurity insurance providers now require firm’s implement certain cybersecurity policies to qualify for coverage. Annually, when insurance policies are up for renewal, reach out to your Frontline leader for guidance on how to correctly adhere so coverage is not lost.

4.) Take Action

Frontline’s latest assessment, performed by our cybersecurity experts, provides a Law Firm Cyber Risk Score that outlines all security gaps and clear action steps to secure your firm. Use these action steps to develop a robust cybersecurity training.

Tragedy can strike law firms from many different avenues. A comprehensive and resilient continuity plan is the best way to mitigate expense, downtime and headache when an issue arises. If you have questions about developing your firm’s continuity plan, cybersecurity trainings or your Law Firms Cyber Risk Score, please contact us.

By: Michael Glasser, Executive Vice President at Frontline Managed Services.