Aug. 31, 2018 – Heavy rainfall, which is expected to continue in the coming week, has caused widespread flooding across Wisconsin. For law firms and lawyers impacted by the floods, the State Bar of Wisconsin can provide guidance and assistance.
Wisconsin is not immune to the myriad natural disasters that can affect families, communities, and businesses. In June 2010, tornadoes ripped through the town of Eagle, destroying homes and businesses. In 2009, flooding forced a state of emergency for 29 southeastern counties.
Now, all of Wisconsin is in a state of emergency.
Although insurance policies can replace the office desk and chair, they cannot replace critical data, such as client files or billing records. In addition, attorneys can’t wait months to figure things out: clients are counting on them, rain or shine.
Help Victims and Communities of Disaster, as a FEMA Lawyer
Lawyers are needed to help disaster victims. Check out this video interview with Paul Conrad, a lawyer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C. Conrad spoke on “Legal Issues and Disaster Preparation” at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Conference. He says FEMA hires lawyers on temporary assignments to help disaster victims and provides the information on how to get involved.
If your practice has experienced any flooding or other problems, we encourage you to contact Christopher Shattuck, the State Bar’s Law Practice Assistance Manager, at (800) 957-4670 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can assist you.
General disaster assistance information is available at wisbar.org/disaster and we provide a toll-free hotline for disaster victims to call at (877) WISLAW1 or (877) 947-5291.
Even if you don’t need immediate assistance, the Practice411 program can also guide lawyers and law firms in preparing for the disaster that may strike in the future.
From securing and backing up data, to developing a business continuation plan, the State Bar can assist firms in developing procedures as a safety net for your business.
“I don’t think law firms, even big ones, think about it too much,” said Sarah Ruffi of Ruffi Law Offices S.C., Wausau. “It’s just human nature to avoid planning for something that you don’t want to see happen.”
Ruffi has previously presented on disaster planning for law firms. “I thought, I have all my backup files in the office, but what if the office burns down?” Ruffi said. “I realized how important it was to create a plan in the event something happened.”
For helpful tips on preparing for disaster, read Tom Watson’s 2012 Wisconsin Lawyer article, “Prepare a Disaster Recovery Plan Before Disaster Strikes.”