Texas lawyers should lead by example with telework, alternatives to in-person meetings, and social distancing but also must be permitted to practice law free from local stay-at-home orders, according to the Office of Court Administration, as it acknowledged that the need for legal services only increases in a disaster like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Lawyers and staff may travel and engage in activities reasonably necessary to provide legal services, as is permitted for other essential services,” David Slayton, administrative director of the courts, said in a letter released Thursday. “Lawyers and staff may travel to and attend court proceedings, depositions, and meetings with clients and others. Stay-at-home and similar orders do not prohibit such travel and activities involved in the practice of law as long as every effort is made to avoid risks to the public health.”

Read the full letter here: Attorney Travel Authorization COVID-19

Also Thursday, the Office of Court Administration advised Texas attorneys that email service should be used, whenever feasible, as an additional or alternative method of service due to uncertainty regarding the feasibility of accessing documents delivered by mail, commercial delivery service, fax, or similar methods during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courts are also advised to use email as an additional or alternative method of notifying parties of orders, judgments, and the like, when possible.