An Accident in the Heartland

This weekend there was an accident in our community. It was one of those events where we learn yet again that there is a fine line between urgency and carelessness and where we are shown that the human body is no match for horsepower, physics and heavy machinery. It was also one of those events that brings a rural community together – when the calls of concern and the offers of help arrive on the heels of the emergency vehicles. Neighbors, friends and strangers band together to see that the crops are brought in, the chores are done and the injured are cared for. And it was one of those events where one senses a wave of palpable relief sweep through the community when the word comes through that, this time, there were no life threatening injuries, no serious trauma and the only injuries are those cured by time and rest.

Now that the moment has past, I am left contemplating my fragility, the wholly unpleasant thought of emergency planning for my practice, and asking if my ICE file (in case of emergency) will be adequate for the occasion of my injury. The very nature of being a solo means that, unless prior plans are made, no one will be there to care for my clients. So, I am spending some time reviewing plans made and thinking about what new plans need to be made.

As it stands now, my ICE file tries to plan for 3 events:

  • what to do if I die
  • what to do if I’m injured
  • what to do in the event of theft, fire, and flood.

I would add a section about employee misconduct, but as I’m a “firm of 1” the jury is still out on the necessity of that section – in all likelihood that section could be covered by a single page with the words “call an attorney & my malpractice carrier”. Each section tries to answer questions like:

  • how to contact my substitute attorney
  • how to use my practice management software to find:
    • client information
    • the state of current matters
    • documents
  • what to tell clients
  • how to use the firm’s backup software
  • where the computer backups are stored
  • where to find login information for various vital on-line accounts
  • the names and contract information for my insurers.

This is the one file I hate to review and hope to never use. While I should review it regularly, it takes a heightened awareness of my own mortality to bring it to the forefront. I suppose that when I’m done with it, I should review my estate plans — but that can wait for another day.