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 important updates from the week related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy.
Free CLE Webcast on April 14
TexasBarCLE announced its latest free CLE webcast related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The live webcast, Tax Stimulus Packages for Law Firms in the Wake of COVID-19, will take place from 10 to 10:30 a.m. CDT April 14 and will be archived for later viewing. Register for the webcast.
The State Bar continues to offer 5.5 hours of free CLE on the TexasBarCLE website, including two prior coronavirus-related webcasts that have been viewed more than 10,000 times. Remember, for attorneys in financial need who require additional CLE, TexasBarCLE scholarships are available for online classes.
Estate Planning News
On April 8, Governor Greg Abbott suspended certain statutes concerning appearance before a notary public to execute a self-proved will, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, directive to physician, or an oath of an executor, administrator, or guardian. The suspensions allow for appearance before a notary public via videoconference, avoiding the need for in-person appearance during the pandemic. Read the governor’s news release.
TexasBarBooks is offering free access to the Texas Guardianship Manual Online for a limited time. Many Texans are finding they need to put medical directives, powers of attorney, and other advance planning documents in place. TexasBarBooks wants to help Texas lawyers provide these services by allowing State Bar members free access to the Texas Guardianship Manual Online. To request access, email email@example.com with your name, bar card number, and preferred email address. Complimentary access to the manual will end on May 31. Learn more here.
Free Upgraded Case Research Service
re:SearchTX—a web-based platform that allows registered users access to an online repository of court case information powered by the Texas e-filing database—is providing free access to its premium features through at least the end of April. The basic service is free to all registered users through a partnership with the state. The upgrade usually costs $30 a month. Attorneys have free access to documents on cases where they, or a member of their e-file firm, are an attorney of record on the case. If you wish to view or download documents in other cases, then document fees apply. After the complimentary period expires, users who prefer the premium service will need to enter a credit card and pay for it.
Supreme Court of Texas Emergency Orders
The Supreme Court of Texas and Court of Criminal Appeals have issued a series of emergency orders in response to the pandemic. The latest:
- Emergency Order 9 extends Emergency Order 4, prohibiting a trial, hearing, or other proceeding in an eviction to recover possession of residential property until after April 30, 2020.
- Emergency Order 10 delays service for garnishment writs to collect consumer debt under Texas Finance Code Section 392.001(2) before May 8, 2020.
- Emergency Order 11 extends deadlines to renew certifications, licenses, or registrations issued by the Judicial Branch Certification Commission, including those for mandatory continuing education.
State Bar Board of Directors to Meet on April 17
Everyone is invited to participate in the April 17 quarterly meeting of the State Bar Board of Directors, which will be conducted remotely in compliance with the Governor Abbott’s order temporarily suspending certain open meetings provisions due to the pandemic. State Bar leaders will provide updates on coronavirus response efforts and conduct other bar business. You can view the meeting via PC, Mac, iOS, or Android device here. The board meeting agenda and materials will be available at texasbar.com/bodmaterials.
The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. CDT, and public comments will be received starting at approximately 9:15 a.m. If you would like to provide public comment during the meeting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-204-2222, ext. 1713 (toll free) before 5 p.m. CDT April 16. Please also provide the agenda item number you wish to speak on.
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 being offered at noon every Wednesday. Upcoming topics appear below; to connect on Wednesdays, click here.
- April 15: “Staying Healthy, Serene, and Sober During COVID-19” with Laurie Besden, executive director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of Pennsylvania
- 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
TLAP has also created a webpage to share support resources for remote living here.
Resources to Keep You Informed
Bar staff are regularly updating texasbar.com/coronavirus with the latest resources and information like those above 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.
Randy Sorrels, President
Trey Apffel, Executive Director