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What to Save When Your Office Is on Fire

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

As the California fires raged, confusion reigned.

An army of fire fighters attacked the flames from all directions. More than 100,000 people fled. Innumerable buildings and victims disappeared in the ash.

Lawyers, too, lost their homes and offices in the rush to safety. So what would you save from your office if you only had five minutes?

Client Files

Businesses often have emergency plans, but maps only tell occupants how get out in case of fire or other disaster. That's not enough of a plan, especially for lawyers who have a duty to protect client information.

In the California fires, government resources told people to take important papers. If you are being evacuated, however, it's too late and probably foolish to take paper files. Suddenly, cloud computing makes a lot of sense.

Law firms should store client records, financial records, insurance information, and other mission-critical documents digitally. Backup hard drives melt, so store that information off-site and off-line because even remote servers go down.

Electronic Devices

These days, almost everyone has a smart phone glued to their ear. That's a no-brainer, but don't forget the charger.

Grab the laptop, storage devices and other tier-one electronics if possible. You may have to work remotely or start over, and it will be easier to do with your essential hardware and software.

Again, it takes advance preparation. Decide in advance what to take because in the confusion it's hard to think.

The Safe

A safe is old school but still works for banks. That's because you just can't digitize money ... and get away with it.

If you have money, stocks or similar valuables, it's a lot easier to take them if they are in one safe place. Plus, if you don't take them, maybe someone else will.

Of course, you first want to save yourself and loved ones. That includes partners, associates and maybe a paralegal.

But if you have only five minutes, you should use them now to think about what else you could save in an emergency.

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