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American Bar Association Becomes First Nonprofit to Earn National Certification for Disaster Preparedness

American Bar Association Becomes First Nonprofit to Earn National Certification for Disaster Preparedness

By Daniel Buchanan

CHICAGO, Oct. 15, 2012 — The American Bar Association is the first not-for-profit organization in the country to be certified for disaster preparedness and response under the Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Program, PS-Prep™, approved by the Department of Homeland Security. The association is only the second U.S. business to achieve this distinction.

“Our nearly 400,000 members and the public can rest assured that the ABA can recover from a severe business interruption and continue to serve their needs,” said ABA President Laurel Bellows. “The organizational resilience that disaster preparedness provides is critical in an increasingly unpredictable environment of global terrorism and frequent natural disasters.”

Administered by DHS’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, PS-Prep™ is a voluntary accreditation and certification program that promotes preparedness standards and best practices for private-sector recovery from natural disasters and other business interruptions.

“Private organizations play a critical role in ensuring the resiliency of our nation,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. “I applaud the American Bar Association for achieving PS-Prep™ certification and strongly urge other private sector partners to work with the PS-Prep™ program to further enhance the readiness and preparedness of our country.”

In 2010, then-ABA President Stephen Zack and the ABA Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness initiated a review of the association’s business interruption and recovery plan, eventually leading to the development of a new, more robust business-continuity management system two years later. Originally focused just on protection of data and information systems, the new ABA plan is a more comprehensive, standardized mitigation of risks, broadened to include operational risk management and multi-year budgeting, not only for technology systems but also for people, facilities and third parties for critical operations.

The ABA business continuity plan conforms to the British code of practice for business continuity management, British Standard 25999-2:2007, one of three private-sector standards selected by DHS.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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