Editor’s note: State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick sent the following message to members on Friday.
Dear Fellow Attorneys,
I’m writing to update you on the State Bar’s Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and our search for a new executive director.
Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts
I know that Hurricane Harvey and its related flooding have damaged many of your homes and law offices. Please know that my thoughts are with you during this difficult time, and the State Bar of Texas is here to serve you in any way possible.
The State Bar is providing the following resources to lawyers and members of the public affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Disaster Hotline—The State Bar’s toll-free disaster hotline (800) 504-7030—answered in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese—connects low-income disaster survivors to legal assistance through local legal aid or pro bono programs. Based on where the caller lives, the hotline routes the caller to a legal aid agency in his or her area where attorneys can help with a variety of legal concerns from lost documents to insurance questions, renters’ concerns, applying for federal disaster assistance, and other matters.
Disaster Resources—The State Bar has collected a number of valuable explanatory documents, assistance links, and how-to videos for the public at texasbar.com/disasters. A page of disaster relief resources designed specifically for attorneys is available at texasbar.com/attorneyresources featuring free CLE opportunities, volunteer guides, and other materials.
Attorneys Affected—Hurricane Harvey and its related flooding affected a number of attorneys and law firms. To that effort the State Bar created an assessment survey at texasbar.com/attorneyrelief where attorneys with needs can report how their colleagues can assist them with things like temporary office space or supplies. State Bar staff is working to match those in need with other lawyers who are eager to help. If you need help with stress, anxiety, or other emotional effects of the disaster, call the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program at 1-800-343-8527 or go to tlaphelps.org for more information.
Volunteer Attorneys—The State Bar also is coordinating the attorney volunteer effort. Nearly 2,400 attorneys, paralegals, and law students have volunteered to assist the public with this disaster. The State
Bar’s Legal Access Division has collected the volunteers’ information through an online form at
texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer and is connecting those volunteers with needs reported by the various legal aid agencies.
MCLE Extension—State Bar of Texas members affected by Hurricane Harvey may request an extension of time for compliance with MCLE requirements. MCLE Rules and Regulations allow extensions of up to 90 days in cases of “good cause,” such as extraordinary hardship or extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the member. If you need an extension, you can either:
• Email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org;
• Fax it to (512) 427-4423; or
• Mail it to MCLE Dept. P.O. Box 13007, Austin, Texas, 78711-3007.
Your request should include your name and bar number and should briefly outline the extent of your hardship or extenuating circumstances. To view your current MCLE status online, log in to your My Bar Page and then click on the link to “View/Report MCLE Hours.” Please contact the State Bar MCLE Department at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1806, if you have questions about extension requests or MCLE compliance requirements.
Court Orders—Several emergency court orders have been issued related to Hurricane Harvey, including an order authorizing modification and suspension of court procedures in affected proceedings and an order extending the deadline for payment of State Bar dues for Texas attorneys whose principal offices are in counties declared disaster areas. Orders related to Hurricane Harvey can be found at texasbar.com/attorneyresources.
Court Closures—For a list of court closures and delays, go to texasbar.com/attorneyresources.
Monetary Donations—The State Bar is encouraging donations to the Harvey relief effort at texasbar.com/harveyfund.
I hope you find these resources useful. If there is anything else the State Bar can do to help, please let me know.
Executive Director Search Update
In a prior update, I reported that our Executive Director Search Committee had selected seven candidates to interview for the open position of executive director of the State Bar of Texas. The committee—composed of private citizens, people with significant experience in hiring executive leadership, members of the State Bar board, and other members of the bar—met all day on September 11 at the Texas Law Center in Austin for interviews and deliberations.
After much debate and three ballots, the committee voted 15-1 to nominate E.A. “Trey” Apffel III as its recommendation for executive director. The Board of Directors will consider the recommendation during its meeting on September 22 in Lubbock.
Explaining the decision, search committee chair Bob Black said, “All seven finalists were impressive and highly qualified. Everyone brought wonderful gifts to the table, but ultimately the overwhelming consensus choice was Trey Apffel.”
Many of you no doubt know Trey Apffel as a lawyer and a bar leader. He is the owner and principal of the Apffel Law Firm in League City, where he focuses on personal injury litigation, toxic torts, and medical malpractice. His practice also includes family law and divorce. He has practiced in Galveston County for more than 30 years.
Trey has served as State Bar of Texas president (2014-2015), on the State Bar Board of Directors, as a member of the board’s Executive Committee, and as chair of the Legislative Policy Committee. He is a former member of the Commission for Lawyer Discipline. He is a member of the Texas Bar College, a Texas Bar Foundation Life Fellow, and served on the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees.
The State Bar will update you on the board’s decision after the vote on September 22.
President, State Bar of Texas