On Thursday, August 22, the NASDAQ, one of the largest financial exchanges in the world, failed. It had no backup, and was down for more than three hours. The financial impact had to be in the billions of dollars.
Even as big as NASDAQ is, even though they have a pivotal role in the global economy, they failed to have a plan for disaster recovery. How and why they recovered is still, at this writing, a mystery. The fact that they did recover is remarkable. Even more remarkable is the fact that it has happened to them before. According to an article in The New York Times, the exchange has been shut down twice before when squirrels chewed through power lines, and as recently as 2011 hackers breached its computer system.
If it happened to NASDAQ, it can happen to your law firm. As I’ve written many times before, “disaster” for a law firm is not a question of if, but rather of when. The only unknowns are what the type of disaster, when it will occur and how bad it will be. NASDAQ was out of commission for three hours. A burst water pipe, a fire, a natural disaster, a computer meltdown could put a law firm out of commission for three weeks, or three months.
NASDAQ had no backup. How about your firm? The issue isn’t just backing up data files, although that is important. Do you have disaster recovery backups like these?
· An internal emergency communication system for lawyers, staff, clients, vendors, and the court, incorporating recorded hotline messages and out of area contact points.
· A plan for temporary office space that will accommodate furnishings, computers and phones.
· A referral arrangement with another firm that will allow you to carry on key practice matters by requesting a continuance or rescheduling a deposition.
· A solid relationship with your banker so you can get an emergency loan.
· An employee assistance fund to help tide staff over in the event there are no ready funds to pay them.
If you don’t, start planning to put them in place now. If disaster happened to NASDAQ, it can happen to you.