Editor’s Note: State Bar of Texas Executive Director Trey Apffel sent the following message to members on March 10.
Dear State Bar of Texas members,
I’m writing to update you on the State Bar’s response to concerns related to the coronavirus. At this time all State Bar offices are operating at full capacity to serve you and the public. All upcoming TexasBarCLE events and activities are proceeding on schedule, and we are working closely with our event partners to implement additional safeguards at face-to-face events to protect participants. The State Bar’s leadership team is closely following developments related to the coronavirus, including government travel guidelines and health advisories, and will notify members of any disruptions to State Bar services or events.
We are working closely with the Supreme Court of Texas and Office of Court Administration and will keep members informed of impacts to the Texas judiciary. There are no reports of court closures at this time. You can check the Office of Court Administration’s website anytime for information on closures or delays reported to the OCA.
State Bar Actions
In an abundance of caution and working from guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State Bar is taking the following steps to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved:
- TexasBarCLE is continuing with planned live courses but is advising registered attendees that they will have free online access to videos of all programming if they choose not to attend in person. Alternatively, registrants can seek a refund if they choose to cancel their registration.
- State Bar standing committees are strongly encouraged to conduct meetings remotely unless it is absolutely necessary to meet in person.
- State Bar sections are encouraged to limit in-person meetings where feasible.
- Enhanced disinfection and health protocols have begun throughout the Texas Law Center in Austin as well as the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s regional offices in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
- Employee business travel is being evaluated and minimized where possible.
What You Can Do
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.
The State Bar encourages members and employees who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms of an illness, such as a fever or cough, to stay at home. The bar supports and encourages members to heed the recommendations provided by the CDC in regards to travelers’ health.
If you do attend an in-person CLE, conference, or other event, please follow the CDC’s coronavirus health instructions by frequently washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and keeping a courteous social distance from those around you.
We will continue to provide updates by e-mail, on texasbar.com, and through State Bar social media channels as we monitor this rapidly changing situation.