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Posts published in “Disaster Planning”

Don’t Blink: It’s Time to Prepare!

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If a natural disaster, freak accident, or unexpected illness were to happen, would you and your office be prepared?

Hurricanes, Floods, Tornadoes, Natural Disasters,  Freak Accidents, Unexpected Situations - OH MY!

June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. However, now, is the perfect time to start thinking about other unexpected situations as well. What can you and your firm do to be prepared? Here are 12 important tips to help you:

  1. Determine your risk. Secure an insurance check up.
  2. Develop an evacuation plan.
  3. Put together a disaster supply kit.
  4. Develop an emergency contact list of your office staff and of individuals/businesses/entities, etc. that you or your staff contact on a regular basis. Store in a safe location both onsite and offsite.
  5. Strengthen your office. Make sure your office is in good repair of any physical issues or damages (examples: check trees, windows, doors, roofs, flooring, ceilings, etc. for any physical damages). Move filing systems to a higher location in the event of flooding. Create several backup systems in the event of physical or electronic file damage and do test restores to make sure they fully work. Always have a secured offsite backup in a safe location. Also, develop an inventory of all office contents.
  6. Complete your disaster plan, go over with all employees in your firm (so they know what to do in the event of a disaster), and store a copy in a safe location onsite and offsite.
  7. Review resources like Ready.govthe National Weather Servicethe National Hurricane Center and South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
  8. Download your copy of the South Carolina Hurricane Guide or pick up a copy at any S.C. Welcome Center, Walgreens or coastal DMV offices.
  9. Check out the Practice Management Assistance Program’s Disaster and Emergency Preparedness web page
  10. Check out the Practice Management Assistance Program's Lawyers in Transition in a Variety of Situations for resources on how to prepare for freak accidents, unexpected illnesses, or death of a lawyer).
  11. Request a copy of PREPARE, a free booklet, from the South Carolina Bar's Practice Management Assistance program.
  12. Remind your colleagues to do the same. It's great to be a good neighbor and lawyer who cares!

Remember, it only takes one event or unexpected situation to change your life and community forever.

Don't Blink: be prepared! Contact pmap@scbar.org if we can help.

Cybersecurity Alert: Watch Out for the Latest Ransomware Outbreak

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It seems no matter which way we look ransomware is one of the top news stories. Last week a new ransomware outbreak, known as “WanaCryptor”, “WeCry”, “WanaCrypt”, “WeCryptor” or “WannaCry”, emerged in Asia and Europe, with attacks spreading across 150 countries (including the United States).

Security experts warn users to be aware of phishing emails, phishing phone calls, and malicious email attachments or links. Businesses are most likely to be infected (including law firms); however, individual’s personal e-mail accounts may be targeted too.

Check out these tips on how to protect your computer against ransomware. Also be sure to check for updates and whether your system qualifies for one of the emergency security patches, including but not limited to, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows 8.

For additional tips on how to protect your computer from ransomware and other cybersecurity attacks, check out the PMAP Law Firm Security Center and follow PMAP on Twitter.

Do You Have a Contingency Plan?

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There’s no time like the present to think about your contingency plan.

Sometimes, it’s hard to write a succession plan because you don't like to think about being dead or disabled. However, it is imperativechanging and something all lawyers can do per Law Practice.orgManaging Law Firm Transition and Rule 1.19 of the S.C. Rules of Professional Conduct.

At a minimum, write a letter to your paralegal or the attorney who would mind your office explaining to them what they would need to know if you were outside of service on a long vacation. Then, make an emergency plan should you become disabled, incapacitated or not able to act inside your practice again. Print the Preparation Checklist to plan accordingly. Fill out this form to add your successor(s) to the registry maintained by the Bar. Finally, use this Agreement to Close a Law Practice as a model agreement between you and your successor(s).

There’s no better time to plan than now!

If you have questions or would like more information on succession planning, contact the Practice Management Assistance Program.

9 PMAP Website Resources to Help You Manage your Law Firm

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In recognition of National Small Business Week, check out a few of our favorite practice management and technology website resources to help you manage your small firm (or large firm):

  1. Start a Practice - Are you planning to start a practice? Navigate these resources to find tools to help you develop a business plan, create a budget, decide on an entity and firm name, find the right location, get the proper licenses/insurance, market, prepare for emergencies, choose technology, plus much more!
  2. Close a Practice - You're thinking about winding down your practice...but you have no clue where to begin. Check out the PMA's guide to close your office plus how to transition out of practice based on a variety of situations. We even have resources for succession planning!
  3. Firm or Law Partner Changes - Things happen: Lawyers decide to leave in order to form new partnerships, go solo, or dissolve practices. Our lawyers in transition section will help you navigate through a variety of situations. If you cannot locate a particular situation, contact pmap@scbar.org for assistance.
  4. Build Your Practice - Whether you want to explore client development or learn how to build your business, our business development resources provide a variety of tips from a variety of marketing resources.
  5. Prepare for the Worst - With Atlantic Hurricane Season kicking off officially June 1st and manmade or natural disasters happening every day, it is important for law firms to create a disaster and emergency preparedness plan. Check out our Prepare page for tips and also request a free copy of our disaster handbook, if you do not one.
  6. Time and Business Management - How should you manage your time and stay organized in your business? Check out a few great tips here. (P.S. Don't forget to check out our SC Small Firm blog for more organization/time management tips and the PMAP Forms Bank for correspondence, checklists, plus more.)
  7. Technology Tips - Whether you are interested in learning more about technology or looking for a specific tech topic (software, security, consultants, etc.), our tech tips section will help you navigate through some of the most important decisions in managing your practice.
  8. Legal Research (for South Carolina Bar members) - Looking to conduct research for a particular case or cases? Check out the South Carolina Bar's free legal research member benefit Fastcase by logging into the Bar's website. Our FAQ's page will help show you how.
  9. Resources- Can't find a specific resource you're looking for? Don't forget the South Carolina Bar has over 160 resources available to active Bar members in good standing via the Lending Library. Also, check out the PMAP Videos Bank and the FAQ Bank for helpful tips and information.

Contact the Practice Management Assistance Program for further assistance in managing your law practice.

Tips on How to Handle Wet Paper Legal Files

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With the disastrous flooding in North Carolina and South Carolina, it is likely that there are lawyers’ offices among the flooded. Once the waters recede, lawyers will have books and wet paper legal files to contend with. First, understand that the paper will never be the same, even if it is readable. According to the Smithsonian Institute, air drying can work, but if you have a lot of documents, you should put them in plastic bags and freeze them in the coldest freezer possible. Later, you can either call a professional to freeze dry the papers or work on them yourself, following instructions online. Anyone can easily see this approach isn’t the best. What if you have no electricity for a freezer? Will you have time for the delicate job of pulling pages apart? A better solution: make sure that all of your law firm’s documents are scanned and saved in an internet document storage site, such as Mozy, Carbonite or SpiderOak.