Editor’s Note: State Bar of Texas President Randy Sorrels and Executive Director Trey Apffel sent the following update to members on Friday.
We are writing to share the latest updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy.
State Bar Membership Fees
We have received several questions regarding the collection of membership fees this year. As you may know, Governor Greg Abbott has directed all state agencies to continue providing essential services to Texans. The State Bar is meeting and exceeding this directive, and is required to continue to fulfill its statutory purposes (Gov’t Code 81.012) both now and into the new bar year. The State Bar is and has been fully operational with the exception of in-person meetings.
Membership fees are due on June 1 each year, and starting next week attorneys will begin receiving dues notices as required. The notices make it clear that while payments are due on June 1, all members have until midnight August 31 to pay without penalty.
That said, we do not want any lawyer to be prevented from practicing law as a result of the pandemic. We continue to evaluate the situation and will be in contact with the Supreme Court of Texas about additional extensions of time if warranted.
While the State Bar must continue to function, our goal is to assist Texas lawyers as we all grapple with the challenges brought on by this crisis. The State Bar has taken a number of steps to help attorneys in recent weeks, including extending MCLE deadlines and providing free CLE webcasts. More details on those efforts follow below.
Free CLE Opportunities
The State Bar is offering 6 hours of free CLE on the TexasBarCLE website, including these coronavirus-related online courses:
- Tax Stimulus Packages for Law Firms in the Wake of COVID-19 — MCLE Credit: .5 hours.
- Practicing Law in the Shadow of COVID-19 — MCLE Credit: 1 hour.
- Benefits and Challenges of Invoking Force Majeure Clauses in the Age of the Coronavirus — MCLE Credit: 1 hour.
You will need to log in to the TexasBarCLE site to register for the online courses. Attorneys in financial need who require additional CLE can apply for TexasBarCLE scholarships to complete online courses.
Remote Well-Being Wednesdays and Wellness Resources
We hope you’ve been taking advantage of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s Remote Well-Being Wednesdays, which are offered every Wednesday at noon via Zoom. Upcoming topics appear below; to connect on Wednesdays, click here.
- April 22: “How to Handle Anxiety During the Coronavirus Epidemic,” with Eric Wood, clinical case manager with Indiana Judges & Lawyers Assistance Program, and Anna Levine, executive director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of Massachusetts
- April 29: “Lawyer Boundaries for Technology and Mental Health During Quarantine,” with Diana Reinhart, Austin lawyer and psychotherapist, and Chris Ritter, Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program director
TLAP also has created a webpage to share support resources for remote living at texasbar.com/remote-well-being.
State Bar and TYLA Elections
Remember, voting is online only for the 2020 State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association elections because of uncertainty regarding the ability of the State Bar’s election vendor to receive and process paper ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. The Supreme Court signed an order to implement this change. Assistance will be available for those who need help voting online. To ensure members have ample time to vote, the Nominations and Elections Subcommittee of the State Bar Board agreed to extend the voting period until 5 p.m. CDT May 29. Go here to vote now.
State Bar Board Meeting Video
As mentioned in our message last week, the State Bar Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting by videoconference this morning with a live stream on the State Bar’s YouTube channel. The meeting included updates on the State Bar’s coronavirus response efforts and resources for lawyers and the public. You can watch the video here.
Resources to Keep You Informed
Bar staff are regularly updating texasbar.com/coronavirus with the latest resources and information to help you stay informed of the changes affecting our profession. You also can 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.
We continue to look for ways to help Texas lawyers and the public deal with the challenges of this new reality. As always, we welcome your suggestions.
Randy Sorrels, President
Trey Apffel, Executive Director