Protecting your legal documents: How to ensure survival in the face of disasters

January 2nd, 2024
Protecting your legal documents: How to ensure survival in the face of disasters

Legal documents are essential to law firms, as these contain the core agreements, rulings, and transactions that form the foundation upon which a legal practice stands. They’re so important that you’ll probably be compelled to save them first in the event of a disaster. And based on recent data, disasters seem inevitable. In the first 10 months of 2023, the United States experienced a staggering 25 climate-related disasters, each causing economic damage exceeding $1 billion.

Wondering if your legal documents can withstand a disaster? If you haven't pondered this question before, we, as providers of backup and disaster recovery services, suggest that it's worth finding out.

Why legal documents are important

Legal documents are highly valuable, which makes them highly vulnerable. Nondisclosure agreements, employment contracts, privacy policies, confidentiality agreements, waivers, and other similar legal paperwork contain sensitive information, confidential details, and crucial evidence that is essential for the success of any legal case.

Losing these documents can lead to a host of problems, including:

  • Delays and disruptions in legal proceedings: Without access to essential documents, lawyers may be unable to prepare for court cases, meet deadlines, or adequately represent their clients. This can lead to delays, postponements, and even case dismissals.
  • Financial losses: Legal documents often contain valuable information about assets, liabilities, and financial transactions. Losing these documents can make it difficult for firms to track their finances, manage their investments, and comply with legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Reputational damage: The loss of legal documents can severely damage a law firm's reputation. Clients may lose trust in a firm that cannot safeguard their confidential information, and the firm may face legal and ethical consequences for failing to protect its clients' interests.

How to protect legal documents from disasters

While no firm wants to suffer a disaster, natural or man-made, they do happen when you least expect them. In the state of New York, a hub of legal activity, there are plenty of risks, ranging from natural disasters like hurricanes and floods to more insidious threats such as data breaches and cyberattacks. Alarmingly, climate disasters in New York have become particularly commonplace, and it’s becoming harder for businesses to cope.

The good news is that there are steps law firms can take to create an IT disaster recovery plan to protect their legal documents from disaster. Here are some key strategies to consider for disaster recovery for law firms:

1. Create a disaster preparedness plan: Every law firm should have a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a disaster. This plan should include procedures for document backup, evacuation, an IT disaster recovery plan, and communication.

2. Invest in fireproof and waterproof storage: Physical copies of legal documents should be stored in fireproof and waterproof safes or cabinets. This will help protect them from damage in the event of a fire, flood, or other disaster.

3. Digitize your documents: Part of an IT disaster recovery plan entails scanning and digitizing legal documents to provide an extra layer of protection. Digital copies can be stored securely in cloud-based storage systems, ensuring they are accessible even if physical copies are lost or become damaged beyond repair.

4. Establish regular backup procedures: Regularly backing up your digital documents is essential to prevent data loss. Implement automated backup systems that create regular copies of your data and store your backups in secure off-site locations.

5. Educate your employees: It's crucial to educate your employees on the importance of document security and disaster preparedness. Train them in proper document handling procedures, backup protocols, and emergency evacuation plans.

6. Conduct regular disaster drills: Regularly conducting disaster drills will help your firm prepare for and respond effectively to any type of emergency. These drills should test your evacuation procedures, communication protocols, and document recovery strategies.

7. Seek professional assistance: If you're unsure about how to best protect your legal documents, don't hesitate to seek professional assistance from a managed IT services firm specializing in legal IT support. They can provide expert guidance on disaster preparedness, data backup, and document security.

Now more than ever, prevention is always better than cure, and a well-prepared firm is less likely to suffer the consequences of a disaster. Get in touch with Healthy IT to learn about disaster recover for law firms and how they can boost their defenses against disaster-related data losses. Leave us a message.