Hurricane ready? 7 technologies for your law firm
You’re ready to work
The storm clouds dissipate and the sun comes out. You survived your assistant’s last minute callout, the chaotic trip to the gas station, and even dismantling the nest of wires under your desk. Congratulations! You weathered the hurricane. You’re ready to get back to work.
On your way to the office, you notice a few buildings without power, but that’s OK – your building has a generator. Dodging pools of water and downed trees, you arrive at your building. But something’s wrong: there’s no power. You discover the building was built with the generators below ground level. There won’t be power until the water dissipates and the FPL can make the trip out. You check your mental calendar and confirm that duration is indeed a period of forever. You need access to your office, to your files – and that’s on the ninth floor of a building without power and no functional elevator.
You’ve probably heard about the Mighty Cloud and its ability to let you work from anywhere. But what is it exactly and how does your firm employ it? Below, you’ll learn just enough about 7 key cloud technologies to make preparations for the next hurricane.
VoIP lets people to reach you wherever you are. Phone towers are frequently damaged and office phone systems offline due to power outages or a lack of access to the building. VoIP makes use of the internet to place calls. So, no matter where you are, you and your team can make calls, update voicemail or auto-attendant messages to keep you and your clients up-to-date.
You don’t need to be told just how important email is to your business, but email services offer two key advantages just after a hurricane. When cellular reception and internet speeds are compromised, text messages get lost and phone calls fail. Emails will continue to get through. There’s no better way to send high-quality images or important information. Additionally, email services like Office 365 and G Suite allow you to share contacts with your entire firm. You can be confident that you and your team have updated contact information to reach each other and your clients.
Client Relationship Management can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Clio is a very popular legal CRM. At its core, a CRM expands on the idea of shared contacts by adding features like document and billing history, private notes on the client, and critical deadlines. When you can’t communicate with your entire team, a CRM provides the answers your clients need.
You need your files to work. You don’t want to face the situation where the firm’s files are on a server in a flooded building. Notes, billing templates, marketing projects, and, let’s be frank, passwords, are all examples of files you need to run your business effectively.
While cloud storage has become very popular with services like Dropbox, most firms aren’t setup correctly. Large firms struggle with security, integration, and folder organization. Smaller firms often have disparate cloud storage solutions, operate on a personal plan, or simply rely on associates to upload files once they’re complete. Either way, the service only functions to keep your firm operational when the files are accessible
When you can’t meet a client face-to-face because you’ve left the hurricane zone, you need help assessing damage, or you’re trying to work with a team member, video collaboration is the next best thing. Video collaboration is broadly applied to apps like FaceTime and Duo. While both allow face-to-face communication, video collaboration is really about working together. Video collaboration services will provide face-to-face communication as well as the ability to send files, comment, present videos or slides, and host multiple participants on in a conference call.
(Virtual) Cold Site
You need to send out an invoice, but you don’t have access to QuickBooks (because it’s in a flooded building). Before the cloud, you would relocate the server to a safe place to run until normal operations resume. That safe place is called a cold site.
In today’s world, servers are virtually relocated to any number of hosting sites. Smaller firms may find that all of their apps and systems already run in a web browser. For medium and large firms, where physical servers represent cost savings, cold sites are critical for continued operations.
The cost of a virtual cold site is exceedingly minimal. Each day it operates will cover future costs many times over.
Your law firm isn’t safe from a hurricane until you can recover from a total loss. Whether a large firm or sole practitioner born in the cloud, the idea of a hurricane completely wiping out your firm may seem a stretch. But hurricanes are times of stress and accidents are more likely to happen. A team member may forward an infected file when working from home or your server may be dropped by a mover. When these things happen, an archive will be your only hope.
Archives take many forms, both physical and virtual. The one thing that makes an archive an archive is that it’s kept in a safe place. A copy of a file in a place people use is always at risk of change or deletion. Archives must be frequently tested.
Technology à la carte
You can use as many or as few of the technologies above to continue operations after a hurricane. What you choose depends a lot on your area of practice, size, and locality. A cost-benefit analysis for each technology can go a long way in making a sound decision, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the important in understanding your various insurance policies.
‘In the cloud’ is not a recovery plan
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