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Despite coronavirus, most law firms lack disaster plans

March 23, 2020

With the coronavirus forcing many lawyers to work from home, the question naturally arises: How many law firms have plans for disaster recovery or business continuity? The unfortunate answer: Not many.

Only 41% of lawyers say their law firms have such plans, according to the 2019 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, published by the ABA Law Practice Division. That’s up slightly from 38% in 2016. Not surprisingly, the larger the law firm, the more likely it is to have a business continuity plan. Only 21% of solo practitioners have such a plan. That goes up to 62% for firms of 100 to 499 lawyers, and 86% for firms of 500 lawyers or more.

According to a Law Practice Division report, larger firms are more likely to have a business continuity plan than small firms and solo practitioners.

According to a Law Practice Division report, larger firms are more likely to have a business continuity plan than small firms and solo practitioners.

American Bar Association graphic

Before the pandemic, a little more than half of all lawyers surveyed (55%) said they telecommuted at least part-time. Of those who telecommuted, about 6% said they are full-time telecommuters and an additional 41% said they telecommuted at least once a week, according to the survey. Of those who don’t telecommute, 5% said telecommuting is prohibited by office policy. Another 3% said they lack the necessary technology to telecommute.

The vast majority of telecommuting lawyers do it from home (88%), but a sizable number also telecommute from hotels (26%), vacation homes (23%) and other offices (14%). A few even telecommute from public places (11%) and coffee shops or cafes (10%).

When it’s time to read email away from the office, 70% primarily use their smartphones, according to the survey, while 15% use a work laptop and 11% use a personal laptop or desktop computer. And what kind of smartphone do most lawyers reach for? By far, the most common is the iPhone (79%), followed distantly by the Android (18%). A tiny 1% of lawyers still cling to their old Blackberries. 

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