The Casemaker Legal Research System was down for a couple of hours one day last week as a result of extensive power outages in Ohio due to the remnants of Hurricane Ike. During the outage we received quite a few calls from lawyers wanting to know why the system was down and when it would be back up. The number of calls was encouraging. Obviously, Casemaker has become a very important benefit that is missed when it’s not available, even for just a couple of hours. (Who would have thought that a hurricane would take out power in large parts of Ohio, much less that it wouldn’t be restored before emergency generators at Casemaker’s internet service provider would begin to fail for lack of fuel?)
Some of our callers were distressed because of the pressing need to do legal research. Although Casemaker has never been down for more than a couple of hours at a time since we launched it in 2006, it’s always a good idea to have a contingency backup plan for all your critical systems. For that reason, I always recommend that you bookmark LexisONE.
LexisONE is a website designed to promote the LexisNexis brand to solo practitioners and small firms. The site offers free state and federal case law, and has recently expanded this free offering to cover cases released over the last 10 years. It also offers free forms, articles on practice management issues, and links to state and local legal resources. Most importantly, it provides access to purchase legal research in most, if not all, of LexisNexis’ databased by the day, week or month. This is a great alternative for lawyers who sometimes need access to practice area specific databases, but not frequently enough to justify the cost of a monthly subscription. You can even purchase a day of Shepard’s Citations for $32.
Which brings me back to contingency planning, or business continuity as it’s more properly called. It should cover not just your electronic data, which most lawyers are now backing up religiously, but every aspect of your practice. The idea is that you want to take a few minutes out of your busy day to look around and determine all of your critical systems, what could possibly make each of them fail, and what you will do about it if one should. After all, in our technologically interconnected world, you never know when the power may go out in Ohio.