Disaster Recovery: Ethics and Practical Steps (Online Seminar)

MCLE Credits: 2.0
Ethics Credits Included: 2.0

MCLE Credit: 2.0 (Ethics: 2.0)
Live-Interactive Credit: 0.0
Designation Credit: 2.0 Ethics (Designations Information)
Price: $149 (Includes a downloadable audio version.)
Viewable Through: 04/30/2022


A pre-recorded streaming video replay of the April 2019 webcast, Disaster Recovery: Ethics and Practical Steps.

Topics Covered

  • Understand which ethics rules apply to disasters in Virginia
  • Learn the practical application of those rules
  • Prepare a thorough and ethical business continuity plan
  • Determine what steps you need to take following a disaster
  • Consider how ethics morph as you go through the stages of a disaster, saving human lives, communicating with clients and assisting your community
  • Discover what technology can assist your law firm during a disaster

“Disaster planning is especially important for lawyers. Not only is it necessary to protect, preserve, and in extreme cases rebuild one’s practice or firm, lawyers also have special obligations to their clients. Lawyers must represent the client competently and diligently, safeguard the client’s property, and maintain client confidentiality and communications. These obligations are neither excused nor waived following a disaster.”
—ABA Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness

As of September 2018, when the ABA issued Formal Opinion 482, lawyers received a far more comprehensive look at their ethical duties during a disaster. The massive devastation of businesses, homes, and infrastructure in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and many subsequent disasters spawned a continuing discussion by lawyers about “business contingency/disaster planning.” What will happen to your law firm or legal entity if your office is destroyed by a disaster like Katrina? Will you be ready? Will your firm be able to contact its clients and continue the business of providing legal services? What does disaster or business continuity planning involve? Do lawyers owe an ethical duty to their clients to develop some sort of “backup” or “contingency” plan?

Life comes at you fast. The lawyers hit by Katrina learned this when they lost not only their law offices but the backups of their data that they had stored at home. Disaster takes many forms—fires, floods, server meltdowns, terrorist attacks, and data breaches—to name just a few. Every law firm should have a disaster recovery/business continuity plan—just in case. In this seminar, our experts will take you through the nuts and bolts of crafting and executing a business continuity plan, with practical suggestions you can incorporate immediately. Throughout, our presenters will reference the guidance of ABA Formal Opinion 482 and other Virginia ethical rules as they apply to your preparation for and reaction to a disaster.

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James M. McCauley, Virginia State Bar / Richmond

James M. McCauley is the Ethics Counsel for the Virginia State Bar where he has been employed since 1989, managing the Bar’s legal ethics section and staff counsel to the Standing Committee on Legal Ethics. His department writes the draft advisory legal ethics opinions, propose amendments to the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and provide informal advice via the “ethics hotline” to members of the bar and bench on matters involving legal ethics, lawyer advertising and the unauthorized practice of law. Mr. McCauley frequently lectures and publishes on matters relating to legal ethics and the unauthorized practice of law. He taught Professional Responsibility at the T.C. Williams School of Law in Richmond, Virginia for 15 years, and served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics and Professionalism from 2008-2011. Mr. McCauley started his career at the bar as an Assistant Bar Counsel for six years, prosecuting cases of attorney misconduct before the District Committees, Disciplinary Board, and Three-Judge Courts. Before joining the Virginia State Bar, Mr. McCauley was in private litigation-focused practice for seven years. Mr. McCauley graduated cum laude from James Madison University in 1978, received his law degree from the T.C. Williams School of Law, University of Richmond, in 1982 and was on the University of Richmond Law Review. Mr. McCauley served on the faculty of the Virginia State Bar’s Mandatory Professionalism Course from 2004-2010. He is also a Fellow of the Virginia Law and the American Bar Foundations. Mr. McCauley also served on the Board of Governors of the Real Property Section of the Virginia State Bar from 2004-2010. In 2013, he was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia to serve on its Special Committee on Criminal Discovery Rules. In 2014, Mr. McCauley was elected to the Board of Directors for Lawyers Helping Lawyers. Mr. McCauley is a member of the John Marshall Inn of Court in Richmond, Virginia. In 2018, he was chosen as Leader of the Year by the 2018 Class of Leaders in the Law sponsored by the Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, cybersecurity, and information technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia.

Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog Ride the Lightning, and is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology” as well as “Digital Detectives.” She is a frequent author (sixteen books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, cybersecurity, and electronic evidence topics. She was the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013–June 2014 and a past President of the Fairfax Law Foundation. She may be reached at snelson@senseient.com.

John W. Simek
John Simek is the Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., an information technology, digital forensics, and cybersecurity firm located in Fairfax, Virginia. He has a national reputation as a digital forensics technologist and has testified as an expert witness throughout the United States. He holds a degree in engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and an MBA in finance from Saint Joseph’s University.

Mr. Simek holds the prestigious CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification in addition to multiple other technical certifications. He is the co-chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2019 and a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast Digital Detectives. He is a frequent author (sixteen books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, cybersecurity, and electronic evidence topics. He may be reached at jsimek@senseient.com.

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