Editor’s Note: The State Bar of Texas leadership sent the following message to members on Friday.
We are writing with an update on the State Bar of Texas’ coronavirus response efforts.
As of the end of this week, all State Bar live events scheduled through the end of March—including TexasBarCLE live courses—have been postponed in an effort to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus. Registrants will be contacted directly about any postponed events.
We are taking this step because of our commitment to keep the health and safety of our members, employees, and the general public at the forefront of our actions in this rapidly changing situation. We believe limiting in-person events and meetings is a prudent step at this time based on the latest guidelines from government agencies and health officials.
State Bar live events and meetings scheduled for April and beyond are still on the schedule at this time, but we are evaluating their status daily and will take additional steps as needed.
As a service to members, TexasBarCLE will offer a free webcast on “Benefits and Challenges of Invoking Force Majeure Clauses in the Age of the Coronavirus” from 11 a.m. to noon CDT on March 18. Follow this link to register or for more information.
Also, effective immediately and until further notice:
- State Bar committees are instructed to meet only by teleconference or videoconference.
- State Bar sections are strongly encouraged to hold meetings remotely. We recommend that sections avoid air travel and out-of-state travel where possible, and that they consider canceling events where air travel or out-of-state or international travel are involved.
- Visitors are not allowed inside the Texas Law Center or State Bar regional offices if they fall into one of three categories:
1. Those who have been, within the past 14 days, in countries for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a level 2 or level 3 Travel Health Notice.
2. Those who have traveled internationally within the past 14 days and during that period have experienced symptoms associated with COVID-19, which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
3. Those who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are not yet cleared as non-contagious by state or local public health authorities.
- Non-essential business travel by State Bar staff is not allowed.
Enhanced disinfection of common areas in the Texas Law Center and regional offices continues to occur. At the same time, we are planning for contingencies in case it becomes necessary for some employees to telework so that we can continue to provide core services.
Court Guidance and Closures
The Office of Court Administration has released updated guidance on court procedures for the coronavirus. As previously reported, you can check the Office of Court Administration’s website anytime for information on court closures or delays reported to the OCA. Please note that the OCA link currently features full court closures and may not include partial closures announced by local courts. Texas Lawyer is compiling a list of those closures, which is available here.
Court Guidance and Closures
The Texas judiciary is preparing for the possibility of needing to hold hearings under Chapter 81, Health and Safety Code (quarantine). One of the provisions of the law requires the appointment of an attorney to represent the person who is subject to the quarantine if the person does not already have an attorney. To facilitate expediency, the Office of Court Administration is gathering the names and contact information of attorneys who are willing or interested in serving as appointed counsel in these cases. If you are interested and willing to serve as appointed counsel, please fill out this form.
If you or a client has an illness, or if you believe you or a client may have been exposed to the coronavirus, the judiciary is asking that you notify the court before making a court appearance so that appropriate actions can be taken.
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the coronavirus. We will continue to keep you informed of the State Bar’s response by e-mail, social media, and on our website at texasbar.com/coronavirus. You can also sign up for the State Bar’s Daily News Briefing at texasbar.com/dailynews to receive the latest legal news updates in your inbox every weekday.
Randy Sorrels, President
Jerry Alexander, Chair of the Board
Larry McDougal, President-elect
Joe K. Longley, Immediate Past President
Trey Apffel, Executive Director