Disaster Recovery Resources
In anticipation of a high volume of questions, the Law Society of Alberta Practice Advisors have provided the following information pertaining to flood-related issues.
One lawyer in Calgary has indicated that he has interim office space available. Please contact the Practice Advisors for details.
Calgary Land Titles Office Reopened
The Calgary Land Titles office returned to operations on Wednesday, June 26. They have advised their work is current (3 days or less receipted) and that Calgary’s work is caught up to what was available prior to last week's closure.
Further details and updated information can be found at:
http://alta.registries.gov.ab.ca/spinii/ and http://alta.registries.gov.ab.ca/SpinII/splash.aspx
1. What can I do once a disaster has taken place?
Review the interim Disaster Recovery Checklist which provides suggested steps to take in restoring your practice.
2. My files and documents are damaged. What can I do about water damaged files?
The Rules of the Law Society of Alberta require you to maintain certain accounting records for 10 years (Rules 119.36 and 119.37). Client files should be retained for a period of 10 years following the end of the fiscal year in which they were closed. Retention of hard copies of client files is not mandatory, but is recommended for loss prevention purposes. Client wills must be kept indefinitely. There may be other files which you have identified for retention beyond 10 years.
Review some brief guidelines for handling flood-damaged documents here. Also see the PracticePro link below for more information on dealing with water damaged files.
Please keep in mind that any material submerged in water for over 24 hours must be treated as contaminated. There may be a need to freeze-dry them and you may wish to contact a disaster restoration expert to assist you if they are critical documents. File restoration may, however, be an expensive process and is not necessary for many client files.
Your insurer may be able to direct you to some restoration companies, or you can search for local listings. Although most are expected to be exceptionally busy during this critical time, the following three companies may be available to assist:
Belfor: 403-215-5555 (Calgary) website
On Side Restoration: 403-291-2980 (Calgary) website
Polygon: 1-800-422-6379 website
If destroying water-damaged files, please ensure that client confidentiality is maintained during the destruction process. We recommend, at a minimum, that you maintain a record of the files you have lost in this flood.
A file inventory form is available here.
3. I cannot access my office. How can I gain access to my Trust Funds?
If you cannot access your office to obtain trust cheques to close your real estate deal, you may either wire funds pursuant to Rule 119.42, or you may withdraw trust funds by way of a bank draft or money order pursuant to Rule 119.46 with prior notice to the Law Society.
Fax the Bank Drafts and Money Orders form to 780-424-1620 Attention: Loreen Austin, Acting Manager, Trust Safety.
See the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta on our website.
Click on the links to access the forms for Electronic Banking Withdrawals from Trust and Bank Drafts and Money Orders from our website.
4. I need to migrate my data. How can I do this?
At the current time, a practice management software provider, Clio, has offered 60 days of free service on a priority basis to assist lawyers in migrating their data. If you are interested, contact them at email@example.com. You do not have to be a Clio client to access this offer.
5. I have lost my resource material from LESA. How can I replace it?
LESA recently communicated its willingness to assist in the replacement of lost LESA materials due to flooding. You may obtain access to the materials electronically.
Contact LESA toll free at 1.800.282.3900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Helpful Links
Justice Alberta Website – Emergency Information Calgary Page
Alberta Government – 2013 Flood Information Page
CBA: Surviving Chaos in Times of Crisis – Disaster Recovery for Small and Medium Sized Law Practices
PracticePRO: Managing Practice Interruptions (This article contains some suggestions for dealing with water damage.)
ASSIST (Alberta Lawyers Assist)