Editor’s Note: State Bar of Texas President Randy Sorrels and Executive Director Trey Apffel sent the following message to members on Monday.
Like you, we at the Texas Law Center in Austin continue to adjust our lives and operations to the new realities of the coronavirus pandemic. We are assessing the needs of Texas lawyers and will continue to seek out solutions to issues that will arise over the next few weeks and months. As a service to members, we have created a webpage at texasbar.com/coronavirus to share the latest updates on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the legal profession in our state. A roundup of the latest updates appears below.
COVID-19 Emergency Court Order
Following Gov. Greg Abbott’s state disaster declaration, the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals issued the First Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster on March 13, empowering Texas courts to modify or suspend certain deadlines and procedures, allow parties to participate remotely in proceedings, and take other reasonable steps to avoid exposing court proceedings to the threat of the coronavirus. The order, which can be read here, expires May 8 unless extended. Current court closures, as reported to the Office of Court Administration, are listed here.
State Bar Operations Update
The State Bar of Texas will be canceling, postponing, or going online with all live events through at least May 10 in line with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most State Bar employees are now working remotely, and State Bar offices are temporarily closed to visitors. We will continue to provide essential services, but please bear with us if it takes us a little longer than usual to answer your calls or email messages.
Free CLE Webinars This Week
TexasBarCLE continues to provide CLE webcasts on timely topics. As a service to our members, TexasBarCLE has scheduled the following free webcasts this week:
- “Benefits and Challenges of Invoking Force Majeure Clauses in the Age of the Coronavirus,” from 11 a.m. to noon CDT on Wednesday, March 18.
- “Practicing Law in the Shadow of COVID-19,” from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. CDT Friday, March 20.
Follow this link to register for the webcasts.
President-elect Candidates Suspend In-Person Campaigning, Voting in Elections to Proceed in April
President-elect candidates in the 2020 State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association elections have agreed with our recommendation to suspend all in-person campaigning in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting will take place as planned in April. You can find information on the president-elect and district director candidates, and how to vote, at texasbar.com/elections. Voting will take place by paper ballot and online at texasbar.com from April 1 to April 30.
Disciplinary Process Update
All investigatory hearings and evidentiary hearings scheduled through the end of April have been postponed in an effort to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus. Parties to these proceedings, their counsel, witnesses, and panel members will be contacted directly about any postponed hearings. Hearings scheduled for May and beyond are still on the schedule at this time. Their status will be evaluated as more information about the coronavirus becomes available in April. At that time, additional steps will be taken as needed. Parties and their counsel with trial settings in March and beyond are encouraged to contact the CDC trial attorney handling their case to determine next steps.
We are here to serve you, so please let us know if you have ideas on how the State Bar can better serve lawyers and the public during this crisis.
Randy Sorrels, President
Trey Apffel, Executive Director