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How to Prepare for an Emergency:
A Disaster and Business Recovery Plan

A Disaster and Business Recovery Plan enables a legal department, law firm, or a solo practitioner to handle and to recover from a range of emergency situations that have the potential to disrupt an office’s normal activities and operations.

Whether caused by human error or forces of nature, disasters are an unexpected reality that deserve and require a degree of advanced planning and preparation by responsible legal practitioners. In recent years, the devastation caused by numerous catastrophic disasters has been well documented in the media, making the seemingly impossible event a distinct reality in nearly everyone’s mind.

While certainly not intending to minimize or trivialize the personal or human effects arising from the impact such a disaster has on those directly within the footprint of an actual disaster, the present document focuses on the business aspect that such an event could have on those in our profession. Lawyers have ethical, fiduciary, and legal obligations to protect, safeguard, and preserve all clients’ interests and property. Failure to take the necessary steps and prepare in advance for a disaster may result not only in liability to clients and third parties, but also in the loss of a client’s business and trust. To prevent these and a host of other undesirable consequences, intellectual property practitioners, whether part of a law firm, a legal department, or in solo practice, are encouraged to spend the time necessary to develop and implement a comprehensive Disaster and Business Recovery Plan.

A Disaster and Business Recovery Plan is a written document designed to walk an individual or organization through the stepwise thought process associated with an anticipated emergency situation that, if occurring, would interrupt the office’s normal activities and operations. The following guide written by the DPBC Project Team of INTA’s Law Firm Committee, led by Mark A. Watkins of Hahn Loeser & Parks, LLP (United States), will aid the practitioner in developing an entity’s own Disaster and Business Recovery Plan. 

The international nature of an INTA member’s practice necessitates a special focus not addressed in many of the disaster planning efforts previously undertaken by other organizations or even addressed in current country laws.  More specifically, an INTA member facing a threatening disaster may not be able to meet his/her obligations or deadlines to a government agency or tribunal located in another region or country.  In fact, that agency or tribunal may not even be aware of the situation. The guidelines set forth in this document are not a complete solution, but are intended to raise awareness and encourage our membership to take certain advanced precautions which would make post- recovery from catastrophe more manageable. 

Download the Disaster and Business Recovery Plan

Written by the DPBC Project Team of INTA’s Law Firm Committee,
led by Mark A. Watkins of Hahn Loeser & Parks, LLP (United States)