Business Continuity Planning: Thinking about the Unthinkable

Law firms are at risk for natural disasters. Lengthy downtime is hard enough on attorneys, and can be disastrous for the middle office services that support them. One smart solution is to contract with companies like Epiq, whose middle office services group offers business continuity planning and implementation for their law firm administrative support services.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Businesses and state officials are still totting up the damages from hurricane Harvey, but we know what happened in 2012 with Hurricane Sandy. Sandy howled through the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states on Oct. 26-29, 2012. It flooded buildings and subways, shuttered thousands of businesses, and disrupted power and phone service for days.

Many companies experienced serious business losses because they could not do business for a week or more, and recovery proved slow and painful. Many of these companies made business interruption insurance claims – only to find out that their business interruption insurance policies did not cover flooding, or a 2-week power loss thanks to electricity substation damage.

If these crippled businesses and law firms had workable business continuity plans in place, they would not have suffered the downturns they did.

Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity planning (BCP) isn’t exactly news: Every firm admits to needing a plan. But the truth is that some firms think about BCP but never do it; others whip one out and hope for the best. Neither approach is going to help much when the data disaster occurs.

What does help is thorough disaster recovery planning that covers secure remote access, enables company communications, and provides infrastructure as needed: everything you need to get workgroups back up and running as soon as possible. 

The nature of the planning depends on the impact of the event and business needs: How long is the business interruption? How quickly must the workgroup be back up? Epiq's middle office services protects its service offerings by breaking down disaster scenarios into three levels:

Disaster Scenarios & Recovery

  • Level 1 is a business continuity interruption of up to 48 hours. The basis of the plan is coordinated communication between directors, managers, senior staff members, and workgroup members. Managers coordinate workload assignments among available offices. If workgroup members cannot reach a working office, the plan activates secure remote access from their homes over Citrix or VPN and tracks work requests.

  • Level 2 is an interruption of 2 to 5 days. This plan includes level 1 planning and adds Alternate Sites. Directors and Managers work with IT to prepare remote equipment, file sharing, and email and phone communications for these sites as well as home access.

  • Level 3 is an interruption lasting more than 5 days. This level includes levels 1 and 2 planning, and formally schedules staff and workloads between home, unaffected offices, and Alternate Sites for as long as necessary. 

Let’s look at two actual Epiq disaster recovery services to see how this works:

Client A: Secure Remote Office

  • Epiq established a multi-purpose space for this client as part of a corporate build-out.

  • The space includes secure offices for the team in the event of a business interruption.

  • The office houses an Epiq network that uses secure Citrix logins, plus additional password pattern security.

Client B: Secure Remote User Access

  • Client issued laptops to their staff.

  • Epiq restricts VPN access from outside locations and issued key fobs as additional password security.

Middle office services are critical to law firm operations, but disasters can take them down. When you partner with Epiq, you ensure that your middle office services will keep right on going even in the face of a major disaster.

Click here to learn more about business continuity services.

Filed under: business continuity, data protection, data security, disaster recovery, middle office

The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.