Yes, now that so many of you are thinking of summer vacations and fun in the sun, my normally cheery blog will turn to the dark side as we explore common law firm disasters and, more importantly, how to avoid them or recover from them. It is Disaster Week on Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips!
Our first disaster is losing your important client data. So much information is located on the computers in your law office that it would be almost impossible and prohibitively expensive to replace it if you suddenly lost it all. That is why we do data backups. So when is the last time you did yours?
In just the last few weeks, I have talked with a tech smart Oklahoma lawyer working on decent hardware who through a really unusual and unique set of circumstances lost all digital copies of brief after the lawyer had invested dozens of hours preparing it. Sadly, it had never been printed. I also got an e-mail from a lawyer-friend from another state who knows all about backup. But he just got very busy and hadn’t backed up his laptop for 3 or 4 weeks when it died completely.
You need an internal backup procedure where you back up your data to another hard drive, hopefully a portable one you can remove from the office and rotate with a similar drive off-site. I no longer trust backup tapes for the solo and small firm market. If your law firm IT department assures you that they are comfortable with tape backup, I would let them do their job. (Perhaps, I would note to them that it would be a double disaster for them personally if they were wrong.)
But, in my judgment, weekly backups are no longer sufficient. I think you either need concuurent or nightly backup to protect that brief you have been working on for three days. It may be that you do not back up everything this way and depend on your other backup system for data that is a month or a year old. Online backup combines the idea of regular automated backup with the idea of offsite storage. Many lawyers are concerned about the ethics of online backup or wouldn’t know how to shop for a provider.
This is why the Oklahoma Bar Association endorsed CoreVault as a member benefit for online data backup and recovery. I wrote about online backup and Corevault in the last issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal. We invested a lot of time checking out the service. We like their system. Data is encrypted before it leaves the law firm computers and is compressed to save storage costs. Oklahoma Bar members can get more information here from the CoreVault site.
For those of you in other states, CoreVault can be your backup service as well.