Disaster Planning for Lawyers will be Major Theme at ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto, Aug. 4–9
CHICAGO, July 20, 2011 — Lawyers attending the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Toronto Aug. 4 – 9 will be urged to use disaster-planning resources informed by the experiences of lawyers like Christine Crilley who survived and learned from their crises.
Crilley’s successful solo practice near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was destroyed by the massive flood that devastated the area in 2008. She lost the computers, case files, calendars, and financial and billing records stored in her office, which became severely water damaged and mold infested.
As she eventually reestablished her practice, Crilley developed a disaster recovery plan that considers multiple scenarios—tornado, flood, fire, even a gunman—and has regularly tested, updated and communicated it to her staff.
“Over a year ago I identified disaster response and preparedness as an important theme for my year as ABA president,” said Stephen N. Zack, whose term concludes with the Annual Meeting. “Then the horrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan struck, followed by the devastating tornados in Tuscaloosa and Joplin, and the record-breaking Mississippi River flooding and Arizona forest fires. While I like to think of myself as prescient, I claim no special powers here. Disasters abound, are a fact of life, and will occur whether caused by nature or by human error or malicious actions.
“Even a minor disaster—a burst pipe in the room with the computer server—can harm a law firm and disrupt its business,” said Zack, administrative partner in the Miami office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner. “Even if you believe that you live where cataclysmic events don’t occur, all lawyers and law firms are at risk of a disaster disrupting their practice. Fortunately, with proper planning, the harm they cause can be mitigated, clients can be served, and law practices may be preserved.”
Disaster planning is especially important for lawyers, Zack explained. “Not only is it necessary to protect, preserve, and in extreme cases rebuild one’s practice or firm, lawyers also have special obligations to their clients. Lawyers must represent the client competently and diligently, safeguard client’s property, and maintain client confidentiality and communications.”
Disaster-related resources and activities at the ABA Annual Meeting include:
- A new ABA publication, “Surviving a Disaster: A Lawyer’s Guide to Disaster Planning,” will be distributed, and managers of small law firms and solo practitioners will take part in a business continuity planning exercise.
- A CLE program, “Courting Disaster: Tools to Help You Create a Disaster Plan Now,” will take place on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2 – 3:30 p.m., at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, Room 715A, 700 Level, South Building.
- An ABA-produced short video urging disaster preparedness by highlighting the stories of small-firm lawyers who survived the 2008 Iowa flooding, the 2011 Alabama tornado and 2005’s Hurricane Katrina will be debuted, posted to the association’s website and made available for bar association viewings.
- During its meeting Aug. 8 – 9, members of the ABA House of Delegates, which sets policy for the world’s largest lawyers’ organization, will view the disaster preparedness video before considering Resolution 116, which urges law firms and bar associations to adopt procedures for emergency management planning and response.
The ABA Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness spearheaded the Annual Meeting resources on emergency planning. For copies of the materials or to interview the disaster-planning experts who will speak at the meeting, please contact Ira Pilchen, firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-988-5743.
With more than 1,400 top-quality events and presentations by the foremost law experts and speakers, the ABA Annual Meeting is the nation’s premier gathering of legal professionals.
Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever. Credential guidelines are at http://www.abanow.org/reporter-resources/media-credentials/. Stay updated before and during the Annual Meeting by visiting www.abanow.org.
During the Annual Meeting, accredited journalists should register on-site at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building, Level 800, Hall E, beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4. A separate press room behind the main registration area will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Aug. 9.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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