Opinions of the General Counsel, 1118 ALBJ, 79 The Alabama Lawyer 434 (2018)

PositionVol. 79 6 Pg. 434

Opinions of the General Counsel

Vol. 79 No. 6 Pg. 434

Alabama Bar Lawyer

November, 2018

Roman A. Shaul roman.shaul@alabar.org

How Your Practice Can Survive a Disaster

Recent large-scale disasters, such as hurricane Florence in the carolinas and hurricane Michael along the gulf coast, highlight the need for lawyers to understand that extreme weather events and other calamities have the potential to destroy property or cause the long-term loss of power. lawyers, in turn, have an ethical obligation to implement reasonable measures to safeguard property and funds they hold for clients or third parties, prepare for business interruption and keep clients informed about how to contact them or their successor counsel.

Specifically, it is important for lawyers to know these Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct:

• Rule 1.4 (communication), which requires them to take reasonable steps to communicate with clients after a disaster. To be able to reach clients following a disaster, lawyers should maintain, or be able to create on short notice, electronic or paper lists of current clients and their contact information. This information should be stored in a manner easily accessible.

• Rule 1.1 (competence), which requires them to develop sufficient competence in technology to meet their obligations under the rules after a disaster. lawyers should c heck with the courts and the bar to determine whether deadlines have been extended. lawyers who continue to provide legal services in the area affected by a disaster have the same ethical obligations to their clients as before the disaster, although they may be able to provide advice outside their normal area of expertise.

• Rule 1.15 (safekeeping property), which requires them to protect trust accounts, documents and property the lawyer is holding for clients or third parties. lawyers must evaluate in advance storing files electronically so that they will have access to those files via the internet if they...

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