Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

When the Internet Goes Down, Will Your Practice Survive?

When disaster strikes, can your firm recover and ensure that you're still able to serve clients, practice law, and meet your duties? Do you have a plan in place for emergencies, like earthquakes, hurricanes, or the loss of your internet?

Yep, with practice management systems, webmail, legal research, and records databases increasingly integrated with "the cloud," something as simple as a WiFi outage could disrupt your practice just as much as a flood. Here's why and how to prepare.

What Would You Do Without the Web?

If local construction workers cut an internet cable or your office's internet breaks down, will you be able to access client files? If something goes wrong with your cloud storage service, could you still complete necessary tasks? Meet important deadlines?

For many of us, the answer is "probably not." And while we can usually get by for a little while without the internet, a large scale outage (say one caused by hackers launching a DDOS attack) could prove crippling.

But your emergency plans might not take a major internet loss into account. Emergency plans often focus on natural or semi-natural disasters, like how to move files should a hurricane strike, or what to do after a fire. Those plans may cover concerns like protecting physical files, finding a way to connect to coworkers, or locating alternative work sites. But they may not anticipate how the loss of internal infrastructure might impact your practice.

How to Build Your Emergency Response

One of the first steps to building your emergency response plan is assessing your weak points, according to a recent Ars Technica article on "surviving a cloud-based disaster."

One of the best ways to do that is to run what corporate types call a "fire drill." Simulate an internet emergency, such as the loss of your firm's office internet or the downing of your cloud servers, and see who is most affected and how the firm responds. That will help you identify the most vulnerable, internet-dependent aspects of your practice, as well as areas that can remain productive without the 'net.

Consider, too, preparing by building in redundancy. As Ars Technica's Esther Schindler notes, "most organizations are relying on internet access that has a single point of failure." That means that one thing going wrong could bring everything crumbling down. Building in multiple means of access for the internet or to your cloud services can help prevent that.

Finally, remember that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Many emergency response strategies can apply to internet-caused disasters too. You just have to be prepared to use them when needed.

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