Many solo and small firm lawyers are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, reports the New York Law Journal. Power outages of a week or more, left many solo and small firm lawyers unable to access files or communicate with the court. What’s most unfortunate, is that the after effects of the storm could have been avoided if bar associations had encouraged – even compelled lawyers – to transfer files to cloud-based servers instead of frightening them away. At least three of the solos quoted in the article weren’t able to get into their buildings to get client files. Had those files been online, lawyers could have plugged in at a local library or Starbucks (I know, the horror!) and accessed information for clients. Or they could have had a colleague or contract lawyer located in a jurisdiction unaffected by the outages to check on the files and contact clients. The article adds that the courts were not entirely sympathetic to solos who couldn’t make it to court prepared, noting that other lawyers hadn’t been affected. As a result, solos who couldn’t keep pace come across as incompetent and unprofessional.
Sure, data breaches are scary. But as I’ve emphasized repeatedly, no documents are 100 percent safe. What’s scarier is that clients’ cases were compromised because their lawyers didn’t have the tools in place to ensure continuity during severe weather conditions.