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Law Practice Preparedness Plan in the Event of an Unforeseen Closure

The suggested Law Practice Preparedness Plan is hoped to minimise the risk to your law practice during the nation’s Movement Control Order[1] due to Covid-19 that will take effect starting 18 Mar until 31 Mar 2020. 
 
In preparation of closing your law practice due to the Movement Control Order due to Covid-19, we urge members to consider taking these actions:
 
 
  1. Inform all clients
  1. Inform all your clients, suppliers etc, that your office premise is closed from 18 Mar to 31 Mar 2020 in compliance with the Government’s directive.  If your firm remains contactable via phone, fax and/or email, include contact details of the person assigned to this task.
  2. Display a notice at the entrance to your office and on your website, Twitter or Facebook page etc (if any).
  3. Inform your clients individually on the status of their files, the next deadline/milestone and explain how such deadline/milestone will be handled/managed during this period.
 
  1. List of active and closed files
  1. The list must contain the file name, client’s name and contact details, brief description and status of the file, and important deadlines.
  2. Keep one list in the office and separately in another location away from your office.
 
  1. Critical dates
    1. Review active files to identify critical dates. 
    2. Make a list of files by category according to their priority:
      1. High category: Critical dates between 18 Mar to 31 Mar 2020;
      2. Medium category: Critical dates 1 Apr to 15 Apr 2020; and
      3. Low category: Critical dates after 16 Apr 2020.
    3. Attend to files that are in the highest category.  This could include informing clients of postponement of cases, payments due to vendors, submission of document/presentation to Land Office, rescheduling appointments etc.
    4. The critical dates list will help you identify files that need your attention the most and helps you when the law practice is open to run smoothly without having to create a list at that point.
    5. This can also be carried out if you are able to access documents from home.  Check the status of those deadlines with the relevant organisations eg government departments/offices, insolvency departments, court registrars, land offices, police departments etc, and advise your team and client accordingly.
 
  1. Backup computers
    1. Back up all desktops and servers in the office into an external drive, cloud computing or other means of storage. 
    2. Keep the external drive in a location away from your office.  If two backups are prepared, it should ideally be kept by two different people at two separate locations.
 
  1. Safety and security of the office
    1. Ensure the office is properly secured before leaving the premises.  This includes all windows, grills, doors and any other openings.
    2. Identify the persons who will hold the key and have access to the premises in case there is a need to access the office during the duration of the Movement Control Order due to Covid-19.
    3. Leave contact details of the identified person with the building security/management office in the event of an emergency during this period.
    4. Identify appliances or places in the office that could be a fire hazard and take necessary precaution.
    5. Unplug electrical appliances/equipment, computers etc before leaving the office.
 
  1. Safety of vaults, safekeeping of important documents and cheque books
    1. Make a copy of the list of items kept in the vault.  Store the copies away from the office in a separate location
    2. Ensure the vault is properly secured before leaving the premises.
    3. Ensure important documents are kept in the vault or secured locked cabinet.
    4. Identify a partner to be responsible for cheque books, vouchers etc.
    5. Do not leave cash in the office.
 
  1. Work from home policy
    1. Consider developing a policy that would enable some staff to work from home during this period.  They should have laptops/computers, access to files and good internet connection.
    2. Ensure that data is secure and private, and in compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (“PDPA”).
    3. Save confidential data on the firm network, if possible, and not on personal devices.
    4. Refrain from printing confidential and sensitive data on personal accounts.
    5. Maintain availability during business hours.
 
We urge Members to take the necessary precautions during this time to minimise any untoward event to your practice. 

If you have any questions or require assistance, please email the Professional Indemnity Insurance and Risk Management Department by email at pirm@malaysianbar.org.my or mysahra@malaysianbar.org.my.
 
 
[1] Special Announcement by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, 16 Mar 2020.