Five Tips to Avoid Practice Interruption

By Ken Sims, Vice President of Business Development, Axcient

The devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 reminded many businesses of the price of not having a Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery plan. Even one year after the storm, law firms continued to struggle to fully recover operations, with some having closed for good. It’s no wonder then, that the annual International Legal Technology Association/Inside Legal Technology Purchasing Survey highlighted Disaster Recovery in the top five purchases among law firms, and among the top three when it comes to cloud computing applications.

With that in mind, we have put together a quick checklist to help you ensure your firm is ready to face, and overcome, any potential disruption that comes your way.


Forget natural disasters:

Although the major storms typically get most attention, they are lower on the list of most probable causes of business interruption. The top cause is hardware and software failures (hard drive crash, memory leaks, corrupted databases, etc.), followed by human failure (employees downloading viruses, deleting the wrong files, etc.), and power outage. Check the 2014 State of Global Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark for some interesting figures and educate the rest of your organization. The lesson is, you are more likely to be down for a couple days because of a virus or power outage in your building than from a natural disaster.


Calculate your cost of interruption:

According to Aberdeen Group, the average cost of downtime is 167 thousand dollars per hour. Yes, this is an hourly figure, and while it might seem high for some firms, it is probably on the low side for larger organizations. Determine what it would cost your firm if an IT outage were to suddenly cause your attorneys and associates to lose access to case files, email, and other critical applications. The cost of practice interruption can be an eye opener to partners and help drive a much needed overhaul of your disaster recovery plans. For guidance on calculating your cost of interruption, check out the whitepaper “The Real Cost of IT Interruption for Law Firms.”


Protect critical applications:

Make a list of all the applications your firm cannot operate without, such as email, document management, dictation software, practice management, etc. Ensure the servers where they run can be accessed in case of an outage. Be sure that the files, databases, and systems are available at any time. Whatever technology you are using for backup and disaster recovery should be protecting not just the files, but the applications and systems as well. And don't forget to add workstations and laptops to the list, which are often neglected.


Create a comprehensive disaster recovery (DR) plan:

Sounds simple, but your disaster recovery plan should really entail more than just the IT infrastructure. Think of all the processes that will be affected in case of an event and what the workarounds should be. What are the guidelines for employees? How will each function be affected? Check out the online presentation on “Best Practices for DR Planning and Testing” for some tips.


Test your plan:

What good is any plan without proper execution? Make sure that the DR plan you create has full upper management support and is tested regularly. Test your emergency processes and procedures, communication plans, and your technology infrastructure. Some DR solutions allow you to run virtual copies of your servers in "sandboxed" environments without impacting production servers, giving you the ability to test your plans in a simulated environment. The plan should be tested at least twice per year and ideally every quarter.

The most alarming result of the 2014 State of Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark study indicated that “3 in 4 companies are at risk, failing to prepare for Disaster Recovery.” In the past, a full disaster recovery solution was something only larger firms could afford. Now, new technologies that take advantage of cloud computing have driven down prices at historically low points while at the same time raised the capabilities to a whole different level. You don’t need separate solutions for backup, disaster recovery, deduplication, and archival. One solution can now protect your Thomson Reuters Elite application as well as your MS Exchange server, your SQL database, and your virtual machines for a fraction of what it used to cost just a couple years ago.

Now is the time to get ready and ensure your firm is prepared. I hope that the five tips outlined above will get you thinking and spark a renewed enthusiasm to finally tackle disaster recovery the right way.


Axcient's Recovery-as-a-Service cloud eliminates data loss, keeps applications up and running, and makes sure that IT infrastructures never go down. Axcient replaces legacy backup, business continuity, disaster recovery and archiving products, with a single integrated platform that mirrors an entire business in the cloud, making it simple to restore data, failover applications, and virtualize servers or an entire office with a click. Click here to learn more and to download free resources.

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