Disaster Resources for Attorneys
Free CLE Opportunities
Online class: Handling Hurricane and Catastrophe Claims
Online class: Providing Legal Assistance to Disaster Survivors: An Overview: Presentation materials here
Online class: Representing Individuals Seeking Assistance from FEMA: Presentation materials are here and here.
The National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center’s: 25 Pro Tips for Working with FEMA: Lessons Learned that Work.
Tips for salvaging water-damaged law office records can be found here.
Volunteer Attorney Guide to FEMA [PDF]: Download this guide which has information about what type of assistance is available, who is eligible, the process for obtaining assistance, and frequently asked questions.
Resource Materials for Responding to Legal Questions from those Affected by Disasters [PDF]: This manual was prepared to better orient volunteer lawyers regarding the provision of pro bono legal services to victims of natural disasters. Once in the PDF, click the bookmark icon to see and quickly move through the table of contents.
ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 482 clarifies the variety of ethical obligations attorneys face when disaster strikes.
The ABA Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness provides resources here.
Additional resources can be found on State Bar’s Law Practice Management website.
Emotional and Mental Health Assistance
The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program can help law students, lawyers, and judges with issues such as stress and anxiety, depression, bipolar and other mental health concerns, including suicide prevention and overall wellness.
If you or a colleague need assistance, please reach out. The service is 100 percent confidential. You can call 24/7 at 800-343-8527. Learn more at Tlaphelps.org.
A new video from the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program, featuring TLAP Director Bree Buchanan and Austin psychiatrist Robert Cantu, focuses on identifying post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, after Hurricane Harvey.
The Texas Supreme Court has amended orders relating to problems created by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, amending one to allow out-of-state lawyers to practice temporarily in Texas and adding others (1) to permit the Aransas County court at law to sit in San Patricio County and (2) extending the August 31 deadline to pay State Bar membership fees for attorneys whose principal offices are in areas subject to disaster declarations.
The following orders have been issued and posted to the Court’s web page:
Amended Emergency Order After Hurrican Harvey Permitting Out-of-State Lawyers to Practice Texas Law Temporarily.
The Court's Order dated August 30, 2017 is extended through August 31, 2018.
Extension of Certain Emergency Orders
Miscellaneous Docket Orders Nos. 17-9098, 17-9111, and 17-9114 are extended through October 25, 2017, unless further extended by the Court.
Extension of Emergency Order Authorizing Modification and Suspension of Court Procedures in Proceedings Affected by Disaster
The Courts’ Order dated August 28, 2017 is extended through October 25, 2017, unless further extended by the Courts.
Joint Order with Court of Criminal Appeals to Modify and Suspend Court Proceedings
All courts in Texas should consider disaster-caused delays as good cause for modifying or suspending all deadlines and procedures—whether prescribed by statute, rule, or order—in any case, civil or criminal.
Emergency Order Resetting Limitations in Civil Cases
Because statutes of limitations are not subject to a good-cause exception, the Supreme Court orders, pursuant to Government Code Section 22.0035(b), that any applicable limitations statute is suspended for any civil claim if the claimant shows that the disastrous conditions resulting from Hurricane Harvey prevented the timely filing of the claim despite the party’s and counsel’s diligent efforts. Any such suspension extends only to the date on which it becomes reasonably possible to file the claim despite the disastrous conditions, taking into account the circumstances.
Expires September 28, 2017, unless the Court extends it.
Order Permitting Out-of-State Lawyers to Practice Temporarily in Texas
Affects attorneys in good standing where they are licensed to practice law outside Texas and either (1) are displaced because of Hurricane Harvey and are practicing in Texas remotely as if the practicing in their home jurisdictions or (2) are retained by a legal-aid or pro bono program or a bar association providing services to Hurricane Harvey victims. Attorneys must register for temporary practice (form attached to order) with the State Bar of Texas and agree to abide by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and to submit to Texas disciplinary jurisdiction.
Amended Order Permitting Out-of-State Lawyers to Practice Temporarily in Texas
References to practicing law in Texas have been changed to practicing Texas law and language requiring an attorney to register with the State Bar of Texas changed to as soon as possible after beginning to provide services under this order.
Language referring to an attorney retained by a legal-aid or similar organization has been changed to providing services under this order to assure the order applies to attorneys who provide pro bono services for no compensation.
Joint Order with Court of Criminal Appeals Authorizing the Aransas County County Court at Law to Conduct Proceedings Temporarily in San Patricio County
Order Extending Deadline for Payment of State Bar Membership Fees by Certain Attorneys Affected by Hurricane Harvey
For Texas attorneys whose principal offices are counties declared disaster areas, the deadline for paying State Bar membership fees is extended to October 31, 2017. Failure to meet that deadline will result in automatic suspension November 1, 2017.