As anyone who has ever experienced network downtime will know, it is amazing how crippling an IT system failure is to a law firm, and how far reaching the consequences can be.

And with technology becoming increasingly embedded in the operations of law firms, planning and managing the risk around network resilience, backups and disaster recovery plans has never been more important.

An outage, howsoever caused, can impact on the structural and financial stability of a law firm in a number of ways, which may include:-

· Loss of productivity and fee-earning hours while certain systems, emails or critical data cannot be accessed.

· Reputational damage to the firm.

· Compliance breaches.

Whilst many law firms I talk to tend to associate IT downtime with large events such as fires, floods or terrorist activity, the reality is that the majority of IT downtime has much more mundane causes which can include hardware failures, loss of power, cyber security breaches (such as ransomware attacks) and software failures.

In many cases the downtime is considerable, with the EMC Global Data Protection Index 2016 study showing that the average length of unplanned downtime was 22 hours. Indeed the situation seems to be worsening this year, as those who saw my blog around ransomware in law firms http://www.itinlegal.co.uk/2017/03/cyber-security-alert-uk-law-firms.html will know, a recently published survey revealed that 88% of law firms who were hit by this kind of attack experienced systems downtime of a week or more.

Whilst many of us can work around a short system outage, when such outages are extending into days or even weeks there can be a serious impact on the structural and financial stability of the firm. It is therefore well worth considering how your firm would cope in the event of a system outage, by considering:-

· How long would it take to get your system up and running again?

· Would your disaster recovery procedures work successfully?

· How much data or email would be lost?

· How would your firm operate in the interim?

If you are unclear to the answers of any of these questions, it may be time to review your processes and procedures around disaster recovery planning to ensure your firm is not exposed to undue risk in this area.

Should your firm require help in clarifying its current disaster recovery position and ensuring it is aligned to your firm’s current business needs, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01494 444065 or email me at david.wills@epoq-it.co.uk, when it will be a pleasure to help.

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