State Bar of Texas coronavirus response update for 7/31/20

Editor’s note: The following message was sent to State Bar of Texas members on July 31.

We are writing to share updated information related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as recent State Bar news. We hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.

Supreme Court of Texas Emergency Orders

The Supreme Court of Texas issued the following emergency orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Emergency Order 19: Cancels the July bar exam, leaves in place the in-person September 9-10 bar exam subject to guidance from public health authorities, and approves an online bar exam on October 5-6.
  • Emergency Order 20: Renews and amends portions of the 15th Emergency Order covering residential evictions.

View all emergency orders that remain in effect here.

Court Guidance

The Office of Court Administration provides a page of guidance relevant to court proceedings. The OCA recommends that courts should use all reasonable efforts to conduct proceedings remotely.View the OCA’s guidance to courts here.

TexasBarCLE Courses

All TexasBarCLE in-person courses scheduled through September have been converted to a webcast format. Some TexasBarCLE in-person courses beyond September 30 are still on the schedule at this time, but the State Bar is evaluating their status daily and will take additional steps as needed. Please visit the TexasBarCLE website for more information on specific programs.

Disciplinary System Deadlines

Pursuant to the Supreme Court of Texas’ 17th Emergency Order, all deadlines pertaining to the attorney disciplinary system that would have expired between March 13 and July 1 were extended to August 15. The court’s 18th Emergency Order does not extend those deadlines. The 18th order allows for evidentiary hearings to be conducted by Zoom video/teleconferencing. Respondents must participate in those proceedings after being served with notice.

Investigatory hearings will continue to be conducted via Zoom video/teleconferencing. No in-person meetings or hearings will be held until such time as the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Supreme Court deem it safe to do so.

As courts across Texas resume conducting proceedings via video/teleconferencing technology, parties and their counsel with trial settings are encouraged to contact the trial attorney in the Regional Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel handling their case to determine next steps. View a list of offices here.

Take Care of Yourselves

In this challenging time, it’s important to take care of yourselves. The State Bar invites you to take advantage of the well-being resources for remote living collected by the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program. You can always call TLAP directly, confidentially, at 800-343-TLAP (8527) or text TLAP to 555888.

State Bar Board Special Meeting

The State Bar Board of Directors held a special meeting on July 27 and distributed a summary of actions taken at that meeting on July 28. If you missed that correspondence, you can read about the actions taken here.

Laura Dawn

Laura Dawn Ouin is the founder of Third Coast Mediation & Consulting in Dallas, Texas, and is passionate about conflict resolution, communication and education. On a personal note, coffee AND tea lover, morning person, travel bug and dog whisperer.

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