Webinar: IT Disaster Planning 101

Michael Hernandez / Director of Client Services at Just-Tech, LLC
Juan J. Ocasio / Director, Office of Information Systems Puerto Rico Legal Services, Inc
Liz Keith / Program Director at ProBono Net
Joseph Melo / Director of Engineering Just-Tech, LLC

Puerto Rico Legal Services, Inc.

  • Non profit corp providing free civil legal services to eligible low income individuals and groups
  • LSC funded group
  • Established in 1966, largest legal aid provider in Puerto rico
  • 15 branch offices and 14 satellite offices
  • Special projects: Tele-lawyer, special education, foreclosure Prevention, Domestic Violence, Community Work, Court Improvement, Compensated Practice Program

Challenges for Overcoming the Hurricane Disaster

  • Telecommunication services shut down
  • Employee emergency line down
  • Payroll due following week
  • Gas and diesel shortages
  • Central office security
  • Data center daily shutdown
  • Office 365 migration
  • Manati branch office closed 4  months - personal relocated
  • No internet in a lot of branches

Preparing for the Future:

  • Revision of business continuity and disaster recovery plan
  • Moving to the cloud
  • Our Website
  • Case management system - migrating to legal server
  • Financial system - dynamic GP
  • Telephone System
  • Internet redundancy in branch offices
  • Acquisition of laptops for attorneys
  • Solar powered portable office
  • Evaluation of alternative communication system (www.gotenna.com)

Lessons Learned

  • Business continuity Plan not current
  • Need to be mobile
  • Provide internet redundancy in branch offices
  • Trash bags over computer equipment does work

Pro Bono Nets Mission

Pro Bono Net is a nonprofit leader in increasing access to justice through innovation tech and expertise in building and mobilizing justice networks. Our programs:

  • Enable legal advocates to make a stronger impact
  • Increase volunteer participation
  • Empower the public with resources and self advocacy tools to adress legal issues

Rapid Response Protocol

  • Regardless of the precipitating cause, an effective rapid legal response requires the following:
  • Collaboration: Strong and early collaboration among key stakeholders;
  • Leadership: An early determination of key leaders with clearly defined responsibilities; and
  • Resources: A marshaling of a wide variety of resources, including both legal and non-legal organizations and individuals, as well as on-line resources.”

 Envisions “Coordinator” roles forming the leadership team of a rapid response effort – and outlines these responsibilities in detail

  1. Legal Volunteers Coordinator
  2. Client Coordinator
  3. Public Communications Coordinator
  4. Facilities Coordinator
  5. Technology Coordinator


State or Regional Justice Community Planning

  • Designated hotline and intake channels with contingency plans if lead program(s) are impacted
  • Centralized information resource and sign up for pro bono volunteers (+ ability to screen, manage and distribute volunteer capacity where it is needed most)
  • Authoritative online source with  information for the public, including KYR resources, clinics and referral resources to direct services
  • There are many good nationally-relevant resources available on DisasterLegalAid.org and statewide websites in regions impacted by disasters -- ask if you need suggestions!
  • Get key content translated in advance
  • Consider role for LiveHelp if your statewide website already provides this service
  • Plan digital marketing strategies in advance (e.g. branded URL redirects, Google AdWords, social media etc.)

Tech Building Blocks for Disaster Response

  1. Listservs / networking tools for advocates working in the affected region
  2. Centralized resource (password-protected, if needed) with resources for practitioners:
  3. Disaster legal services manuals
  4. Training and webinar materials
  5. Sample forms and pleadings
  6. Tools to facilitate remote, unbundled services and remote pro bono engagement
  7. Social media & digital marketing strategy (including person appointed to “listen”)

Resources available

▶ https://www.disasterlegalaid.org/preparedness/.

▶ Disaster Checklist for a Legal Services Program

▶ Louisiana State Bar Association Access to Justice Committee’s Disaster Plan  (statewide plan)

▶ State Bar of California – Steps to Disaster Planning for Legal Services Providers  (organizational plan

▶ ABA’s Lawyer’s Guide to Disaster Planning

▶ Video: Why Do You Need a Business Continuity Plan?

▶ Disaster Preparedness Toolkit

▶ IT Disaster Recovery Plan

▶ Just-Tech’s Creating a Technology Disaster Plan

▶ Crisis Communication Training Crisis Management: Controlling the Chaos by Pierpont Communications


Resources available on DisasterLegalAid.org:

Disaster Assistance Manuals

FEMA Appeals Brief Bank

Trainings and Resources by Topic

LSC Disaster Counseling Videos

New York Rapid Response Protocol


Last updated on .

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