“Over a year ago, I identified disaster response and preparedness as an important theme for my year as ABA president,” says president Stephen Zack. “Then the horrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan struck, followed by the devastating tornados in Tuscaloosa and Joplin, and the record-breaking Mississippi River flooding and Arizona forest fires.”
The ABA is offering up Christine Crilley as an example of a lawyer whose practice has felt the effects of natural disaster. Floods in Iowa in 2008 destroyed her office’s computers, case files, calendars, and financial and billing records. But closer to home, lawyers in Alberta also suffered during the recent forest fire in Slave Lake. As Canadian Lawyer reported this month, the fires affected the offices of at least two lawyers there, while other members of the bar had damage to their homes.
As a result, the ABA meeting, which is taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, will include resources on how lawyers can prepare for disaster. Besides a new publication and a video, there will also be a session on Saturday, Aug. 6, on the tools for creating a disaster plan.
“Even if you believe that you live where cataclysmic events don’t occur, all lawyers and law firms are at risk of disaster disrupting their practice,” said Zack. “Fortunately, with proper planning, the harm they cause can be mitigated, clients can be served, and law practices may be preserved.”