Posted inCoronavirusNews

Railroad Commission launches Case Administrative Service Electronic System

The Railroad Commission of Texas has launched the Case Administrative Service Electronic System, or RRC CASES, a public portal to allow operators to file hearing cases online and grant the public online access to the hearings process.

The system allows users to search hearings dockets using a variety of criteria including case number, operator name, or RRC district.

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Posted inCoronavirusCourtsJudiciaryMember BenefitsNewsPro BonoState BarTexas Bar JournalTexas Lawyers' Assistance ProgramTexas Supreme CourtTLAP

State Bar COVID-19 update: lawyers as ‘essential,’ federal stimulus, and a call for civility

Editor’s Note: State Bar of Texas President Randy Sorrels and Executive Director Trey Apffel sent the following message to members Friday.

We are writing to share important updates from the week related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well.

Civility in the Practice of Law

In this difficult time with so many of us, our friends, peers, and colleagues experiencing hardship caused by the pandemic, it’s imperative that we show kindness, compassion, and civility in our practice of law. Many of us have businesses to keep afloat, while many also have family to care for, so it’s now more important than ever that we practice the courtesy and cooperation spelled out in the civility oath new Texas lawyers take and in the we all follow. Continue Reading

Posted inCoronavirusNews

Coronavirus Legal News Briefing — April 3, 2020

Editor’s Note: The State Bar of Texas is providing this collection of important links, blog posts, and media stories to keep its members and the public informed of the latest news and resources related to the novel coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the legal community.

Important links

State Bar of Texas Coronavirus Legal Resources Page — Texasbar.com/coronavirus

Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program Well-being Resources page — Texasbar.com/remote-well-being

OCA: Attorneys are ‘essential’ but should work remotely if possible — Attorneys are “essential” workers during the COVID-19 pandemic because they support the operations of the judicial system, but they still should work remotely from home if possible. — Texas Bar Blog

How small law firms in Texas can benefit from the $2T stimulus package — The recently passed CARES Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package, provides access to $349 billion in capital to small law firms and businesses, much of which can be forgiven if handled correctly. — Texas Bar Blog Continue Reading

Posted inCoronavirusLaw Firms and Legal DepartmentsNews

How small law firms in Texas can benefit from the $2T stimulus package

Small law firms across Texas have been crippled because of “stay at home” and “shelter in place” orders due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most recently, Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order consolidating its local predecessors and limiting non-essential activity until April 30, 2020. To rescue America’s economy, the federal government recently passed into law the CARES Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package.

The 880-page law and guidance documents provided by the Small Business Administration, or SBA, are complex; however, the most important sections of the law are Section 1102, titled Paycheck Protection Program, and Section 1106, titled Loan Forgiveness. Most critically, these sections provide access to $349 billion of capital to small law firms and businesses, much of which can be completely forgiven if used in the correct ways. Below are some critical facts about the law. Continue Reading

Posted inCoronavirusCourtsNews

OCA: Attorneys are ‘essential’ but should work remotely if possible

Attorneys are “essential” workers during the COVID-19 pandemic because they support the operations of the judicial system, but they still should work remotely from home if possible and practice social distancing in the interest of public health, according to updated guidance from the Office of Court Administration.

The OCA issued a revised Travel Authorization letter for attorneys on Thursday noting that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified “workers supporting the operations of the judicial system” as essential workers.

“As officers of the courts, lawyers, as well as their necessary staff, support the operations of the judicial system and are therefore essential workers,” David Slayton, administrative director of the courts, said in the letter.

Slayton also noted that consistent with Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-14 requiring even essential services to be provided through remote telework unless they cannot be provided remotely, lawyers should lead by example by working in ways that encourage remote telework and social distancing. Continue Reading

Posted inCoronavirus

Effective mediation during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on all areas of society, including aspects of litigation that traditionally involve meeting with other parties, such as trial, hearings, and mediation. Faced with this unprecedented disruption, attorneys must prepare themselves and their clients for inevitable changes in mediation practices. This includes consideration of a number of factors, such as: (1) logistics of conducting remote mediation; (2) coordinating with neutrals and opposing counsel to reschedule mediation; (3) modifying existing mediation deadlines with the court; (4) surveying the new landscape for tactical advantages; and (5) planning for uncertainty.

In response to this health crisis, there are now severe restrictions on travel and gatherings that make traditional, in-person mediation impossible. As of this writing, at least 294 million people in at least 37 states, 74 counties, and 14 cities have been ordered to stay home. At least 37 Texas counties currently have shelter-in-place or stay at home orders, including Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Travis Counties. Gov. Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-14 on March 31, 2020, which orders all people in Texas to minimize social gatherings and in-person contact. International travel is de facto prohibited. Many workplaces have travel restrictions on their employees, especially in cases involving air travel. Individuals may also simply not be willing to travel or gather to attend in-person mediation. JAMS, for example, moved its neutrals and staff to a remote-work structure. Thus, the most likely accommodation is conducting remote mediation, where the parties are not required to attend in person.
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Posted inAccess to JusticeCoronavirusNews

Coronavirus Legal News Briefing — April 2, 2020

Editor’s Note: The State Bar of Texas is providing this collection of important links, blog posts, and media stories to keep its members and the public informed of the latest news and resources related to the novel coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the legal community.

Important links

State Bar of Texas Coronavirus Legal Resources Page — Texasbar.com/coronavirus

Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program Well-being Resources page — Texasbar.com/remote-well-being

Free assistance available for low-income individuals grappling with civil legal problems as result of coronavirus pandemic — This service is a partnership among the State Bar of Texas, the state’s legal aid agencies, volunteer organizations, and access-to-justice organizations. — KYTX – Tyler

Texas Supreme Court coronavirus update — All service and statute-of-limitations deadlines have been delayed in civil cases from March 13 until June 1 unless the chief justice extends it. — Texas Bar Blog

COVID-19 and family law: What every attorney needs to know — Family law judges and practitioners have worked swiftly to respond to changes affecting family law clients and their children. — Texas Bar Blog Continue Reading

Posted inCoronavirusLocal BarsNewsPro Bono

Houston Bar adapts LegalLine service in response to COVID-19

The Houston Bar Association is unveiling a new, weekly LegalLine process to replace its bimonthly call-in service in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New changes include allowing members of the public with legal questions to signup online to have a lawyer call back with advice and additional resources to resolve their legal resources.

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Posted inCoronavirusLaw SchoolsTexas Supreme Court

Board of Law Examiners: July Texas Bar Exam still on schedule

The Texas Board of Law Examiners reports it continues to prepare for the July 2020 Texas Bar Exam as scheduled and no extensions have been made to application deadlines.

According to a statement on the board’s website, the board is “exploring options for the July exam in the event that prohibitions against large gatherings remain in effect.” In the meantime, the Board of Law Examiners is continuing with scoring of the February 202o Texas Bar Exam and expects to release results in the first week of May.

Posted inAppellateCoronavirusNewsTexas Supreme Court

Texas Supreme Court coronavirus update

Editor’s Note: The Texas Supreme Court issued the following advisory.

All service and statute-of-limitations deadlines have been delayed in civil cases from March 13 until June 1 unless the chief justice extends it, under a Texas Supreme Court order issued Wednesday, April 1.

The tolling does not affect deadlines for filing appeals or other appellate proceedings, but the order notes that requests for any such relief should be “generously granted” by the particular court. Continue Reading

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