Editor’s note: The following message was sent to State Bar of Texas members on August 7. 

COVID-19 has severely impacted the State of Texas and the administration of the judicial system. Many lawyers are struggling in the economic climate created by the pandemic.

Under Article III of the State Bar Rules, Texas lawyers who do not pay membership fees (including the legal services fee) to the State Bar by August 31, 2020, would be automatically suspended from the practice of law on September 1, 2020. The pandemic has hindered some attorneys from meeting that deadline. To assist these members, the State Bar, at the initiative of the Membership Department, asked the Texas Supreme Court to extend the deadline for payment of membership fees to October 31, 2020. The court has agreed to the extension in the 23rd Emergency Order.

The State Bar thanks the court for approving this extension and for the prior emergency orders that are helping members of the public and attorneys navigate the legal challenges created by these uncertain times. Please read below for additional updates about the COVID-19 pandemic and other State Bar news.

Other Supreme Court of Texas Emergency Orders

The Supreme Court of Texas issued two additional emergency orders since our last update to you.

  • The 22nd Emergency Order issued on August 6 extends until October 1 the limits on jury proceedings in previous pandemic-related orders. The order specifies that the Office of Court Administration, in coordination with the regional presiding judges and local administrative judges, should assist trial courts in conducting a limited number of jury proceedings before October 1, whether in-person or remote proceedings involving grand and petit jurors, and no later than August 28 must outline recommendations to the Texas Supreme Court regarding jury proceedings.
  • The 21st Emergency Order issued on July 31 states that any deadline for the filing or service of any civil case that falls on a day between March 13, 2020, and September 1, 2020, is extended until September 15, 2020. This does not include deadlines for perfecting appeal or for other appellate proceedings, requests for relief from which should be directed to the court involved and should be generously granted, according to the order.

The Office of Court Administration has updated its guidance for court proceedings. Read more here. View the court’s other emergency orders that remain in effect here.

MCLE Deadlines Extended

We understand the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for some attorneys to complete their MCLE requirements on time. In response, the MCLE Department granted several extensions to attorneys beginning with those who had compliance dates in November 2019. Below are the current compliance deadlines.

Attorneys with deadlines in:

• May—granted a 90-day extension with a final deadline of August 31.

• June—granted a 90-day extension with a final deadline of September 30.

• July—granted a 60-day extension with a current deadline of September 30. 

• August—granted a 60-day extension with a current deadline of October 31.

The MCLE Department is constantly reviewing compliance deadlines due to the pandemic. Please contact the MCLE Department at 800-204-2222, ext. 1806, or mcle@texasbar.com if you have questions about the extensions or MCLE compliance requirements.

Nominations Sought for At-Large Director

The State Bar of Texas is accepting nominations through December 1 for an at-large director position on the board of directors. Four at-large positions are appointed by the State Bar president subject to board confirmation. One position will become vacant in 2021. At-large directors serve three-year terms. The term begins June 17, 2021.

In making the appointments, the president is required to appoint directors who demonstrate knowledge gained from experience in the legal profession and community necessary to ensure the board represents the interests of attorneys from the varied backgrounds that compose the membership of the State Bar of Texas.

For information or to submit a nomination, go to texasbar.com/atlarge.

Laura Dawn Ouin is the founder of Third Coast Mediation & Communication in Dallas, Texas, and is passionate about conflict resolution in all forms. Equipped with over 20 years of experience in business development, conflict resolution and communication development, she facilitates solutions through strategic mediations as well as developing written communication for web, press releases, and media distribution. When it is critical that your audience needs to understand your message, Laura Dawn helps you be heard.

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