ILTA is conducting a webinar today (5 March) regarding the legal community’s response to COVID-19, with around 800 people registered to dial in. We will be providing you with live coverage.
The legal profession at large is currently reviewing their disaster recovery policies and many banning non-essential travel in order to protect employees against further spread of the virus. During this session, ILTA peers will discuss their plans, company policies and procedures, as well as potential pitfalls – to help ensure your smooth transition to working from home or other contingency if you are unable to carry on with your typical day to day.
Karen Allen – Manager Information Governance Technology, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Pamela Hill, Risk Partners Alliance
Jeffrey Brandt – Chief Information Officer, Jackson Kelly PLLC
Martha Breil – Knowledge Management Leader, McGuireWoods LLP
Cindy MacBean – Litigation Support Manager, Honigman LLP
Marcos Marcal – Information Security & Risk Manager, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Donna Payne – CEO, PayneGroup
Dean Leung, iManage
Dawn Hudgins, ILTA
Dawn Hudgins ILTA: We’ve taken core values into consideration to meet members need to provide unbiased information including the likes of CDC. Created a COVID-19 page on the website.
We’re making sure we’re prepared and covering all our basis.
Law firm policies
First topic is firm policies led by Donna Payne – who is in ground zero in Washington and she will talk from first hand experience.
Donna: “We have been in isolation and are being referred to as ground zero. Genome testing shows Coronavirus been here for six weeks and we’ve had 10 deaths in Washington State. They are referring to us as a ghost town. Google has said no visitors to campus and have asked their 4,500 people to work from home. Microsoft has instituted a work from home policy. Boeing has a member of staff test positive and they are reviewing policy. Grocery deliveries take three days. My children’s school closed on Monday and they have instituted a distance learning plan.”
Pamela Hill: If you have a primary travel agent bring them into your crisis response team: there are a lot of cancellations in Europe. Several clients looking at restriction on domestic US travel.
Dean: We’re seeing from clients an abundance of caution. Firms such as Sidley have canceled their partner retreat and Baker Botts is doing it remotely. Linklaters has canceled their retreat. Google, Facebook and Oracle have all cancelled their major events.
Everyone limiting non-essential travel – good to proactively provide information on what you are doing to prepare.
We at iManage are limiting travel to hotspots, and ensuring geo isolation of resources so critical members of staff are in different locations.
Martha: My firm is considering cancelling our retreat but hasn’t made a decision yet.
HR Policy modifications around working from home
Dean: We are giving particular heed towards higher risk employees. Anyone that is pregnant or has young children at home should have the ability to work from home. Some roles can’t operate from home such as mail room so you need to look at the policies on that. Ensure cross-training and geo isolation.
Pamela: Here is the process I suggest: you don’t need to provide everyone with remote access. Identify key personnel and focus on training them. Identify the roles and name the names. It’s the only way you’ll ensure you have the right number of licenses. Figure out who is critical.
Document in your policy that these folks may not get home during normal times. The ugliest part of this is identifying those critical personnel. My clients working from home those basic secretarial roles are really important so ended up opening a skeleton crew.
Do a business plan to identify business critical areas – what do the attorneys need to keep working from home. Look at the people associated with those roles. Then you have to sit with each operational area.
Donna: It’s a good time to do a HR policy for people who become sick in the office.
Office adminstrators need to update of local issues and communicate them. Suggest the team meet once a week. Some of my clients are meeting every couple of days to discuss. This is a unique crisis and we need to stay ahead of it. Send out firm updates weekly. Even if you don’t know any more you need to communicate to manage fear.
Donna: the school that my kids go to is communicating daily. Helpful to prevent any feeling of isolation and tackling rumours – can be helpful for law firms as well. Important to be forgiving if people don’t want to travel. Establishing communication protocol is really important.
Roles and responsibilities
Marcos: It’s important to assign roles and responsibilities – who will contact clients? Who is going to contact vendors? Do we need to have vendors as part of risk management process. What do we need to put in the website. People need to know what to do and when to do it.
Dean: A table top exercise is critical. Go through each step of the plan and if Fred isn’t available what happens? How will the chain of command adapt? The managing partner and executive need to be aware and engage. If you don’t have a plan a great starting precedent is to use data breach response plan. Encourage listeners to share theirs.
Pamela: we’re at the point in this crisis where we need to accommodate for people with underlying health conditions. Focus on the things that are in your control.
Donna: I’ve started refusing to shake hands – don’t take it personally.
Home technologies and equipment
Marcos – you can have training but you have to test. If there are only 10-20 people using Citrix and VPN you need to stress test for more than that.
Dean: This is a good time to remind people with remote access to refresh themselves on how to use it. People may not remember how to long on to Citrix. The best time to do it is now – raise awareness. Also worth remembering if an office is empty what equipment needed to be cared for to keep systems running. Some organisations are offering 90 days of free conference software – Citrix. Partners are making accommodations to help.
Marcos – remember to make sure you have the right number of licenses.
Jeffrey: We’re looking at ways to use our desktop PCs and send those home. Microsoft and Cisco and Logmein all have program to offer free tools. Now not necessarily the best time to add something new. But if you don’t have collaborative tools to help you work from home it’s worth looking at. It’s also worth producing cheet sheats.
Donna: My kids school is using Teams.
Pamela: Microsoft is offering free trials of MS Teams.
Ensuring vendors are prepared
Pamela: Here is where I suggest you start eg IT vendor/payroll/outsourced services/ insurance providers – find out what your threshold is.
Donna: remember business partners are in this with you – we’re in this together and everyone doing the best they can. Things are not always going to go well and the technology will fail at times. Business partners – don’t hit them with too much but work with them closely.
Dean: When you’re working with providers you wouldn’t have signed up if you hadn’t vetted them but what is the people plan? What is the battle plan if people are out of the office? This is common sense – not you issuing a 300 page questionnaire. Ask simple questions. Everybody is really focused on showing that businesses are covered.
From the Zoom chat: Article from Harvard Business Review – What Are Companies’ Legal Obligations Around Coronavirus?
FEMA has some good materials for business impact analyses https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/181750
Marcos: Make sure your contacts are updated. [This is a great point – one of the key issues facing DLA Piper after it went off line was out of date contacts.]
Question from Zoom chat:
From Gillian Glass to Everyone: 05:40 PM
So we end up with entire families on the home wifi: the kids are attending school remotely and the spouse also is working remotely. At a certain point who gets the bandwidth? Do you move to shift work?
Donna: we’re all home and fighting for bandwidth – it will happen!
Pamela – after three days everyone gets a nervous tick but the long term expectations of people working from home long term is not feasible.
From Zoom Chat
Dana to Everyone: 05:44 PM
Microsoft sent out instructions on how to get a free trial license for Teams if you don’t have it for all your users. Hunting for link.
From Peter Baran to Everyone: 05:45 PM
And for follks without lots of infrastructure, don’t forget something like GoToMyPC might be a quick and dirty stopgap
ILTA has a webinar next for IT checklists for COVID-19
Next ILTA webinar: https://www.iltanet.org/events/event-description?CalendarEventKey=30c2925c-99d7-44e9-8bdb-c9cb3e8e8f87&CommunityKey=b4b92e64-7f89-4c94-9d3f-aefbcd933076&Home=%2flive-events%2fcalendar