HBA Updates on COVID-19

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Introduction

The health and safety of our members, our employees and the public is of paramount importance to the Houston Bar Association. The HBA is following the lead of the State Bar of Texas to address concerns over a rapidly developing situation involving the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The HBA staff is currently working remotely to continue serving our members and the public. Our phone line, (713) 759-1133, will be answered from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. At this time, the HBA office at 1111 Bagby Street is not accepting in-person visitors. If you would like to contact a specific member of the HBA staff, see the email addresses at hba.org/staff.

If you need a referral to an attorney, visit hlrs.org or email info@hlrs.org.

If you cannot afford to hire an attorney for your civil legal matter and would like to apply for legal aid, call the Houston Volunteer Lawyers at (713) 228-0732 or visit makejusticehappen.org.

The HBA is monitoring local, state and federal agencies, as well as local, state and federal courts, and will post daily updates on the website and calendar as they develop.

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HBA Updates

Programming

CLE Seminars: The HBA/CLE Friday afternoon seminars are taking place as webinars. Visit the HBA/CLE Webpage for the virtual seminar schedule.

Section meetings: HBA sections are currently being held virtually. For updates on section events, see the HBA web calendar. Please contact Ashley Gagnon Steininger at ashleyg@hba.org for more information.

Committee meetings: For the health and safety of our members and our staff,  all committee meetings and events scheduled that cannot be conducted by teleconference or videoconference are canceled until further notice. Please contact the HBA office with any questions. We will update regarding rescheduling of cancelled events as information becomes available.

For committee meetings, we hope that committee chairs can provide a call-in number through their law office or firm. If that is not an option, a free teleconference number may be available. Please contact Bonnie Simmons at bonnies@hba.org for more information.

Veterans Legal Initiative clinics: The Veterans Administration is currently not allowing in-person legal clinics. However, veterans can receive free legal advice and services virtually through Houston Volunteer Lawyers online clinics. For further information, visit makejusticehappen.org or contact Tara Shockley at taras@hba.org.

Click here for the latest Houston Volunteer Lawyers update.

Events

The following HBA events have been postponed or rescheduled:

  • Habitat house dedication – watch for information
  • HAY Center Prom Readiness Event – watch for information
  • Harris County Law Library 19th Amendment Symposium – watch for information
  • HBA Auxiliary Spring Luncheon – watch for information
  • Gender Fairness Management Breakfast – now a virtual program set for June 30, 2020
  • Senior Lawyers Forum – watch for information
  • 2020 Criminal/Appellate Bench Bar Conference – now set for Thursday, September 24, 2020
  • HBA Professionalism Committee's Day of Civility in the Law – watch for information
  • Gender Fairness "Business Development for Women" – now set for Tuesday, September 29, 2020
  • HBA Annual Golf Tournament – now set for Wednesday, October 7, 2020
  • HBA Annual Dinner & 150th Anniversary Celebration – watch for information
  • Leadership CLE "How to Move Up in a Law Firm" – watch for information

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Court & Government Office Links

Courts

Different courts have different policies: while some courts are operating remotely, others may require in-person appointments or may have suspended certain activities. For details on a specific court, use the links below, or look up your court's contact information on the HBA's Directory of Courts.

Federal Courts in Houston and Galveston are closed effective June 26 - July 10, 2020. Read the special order.

The 1st and 14th Courts of Appeals have extended brief filing deadlines.

The Harris County District Courts have published the results of the COVID Response Judicial Task Force survey for attorneys. Click here to read.

Harris County Criminal District Court Docket Schedules, effective June 15, 2020

Texas Supreme Court Advisory - Coronavirus Emergency Orders

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Resource Links

Legal Updates

 

Additional Resources

 


 

Legal Resources & Guides

Answers to common legal questions and resources to help you navigate legal issues related to COVID-19. Special thanks to Baker Botts L.L.P., Vinson & Elkins LLP, and our Family Law Section for developing these materials.

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C.A.R.E.S. Act Analysis

The CARES Act provides significant funding for governments, businesses, hospitals, schools, and social support programs, among many other things. Click here for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Guide and Checklist on emergency loans.

The following information is excerpted from the National Council of Nonprofits’ analysis of the CARES Act. These elements of the Act may be of particular interest to HBA members.

Paycheck Protection Program Loans (emergency SBA 7(a) loans): Creates an emergency loan program providing loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits and small businesses, permitting them to cover costs of payroll, operations, and debt service, and provides that the loans will be forgiven in whole or in part under certain circumstances. Section 1102.

  • General Eligibility: Available to entities that existed on February 15, 2020 and had paid employees or paid independent contractors.
  • No Personal Guarantee: No personal guarantee or collateral will be required in securing a loan.
  • Loan Amount: The lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times the average total monthly payroll (including benefits) costs from the one-year period prior to the date of application.
  • Loan Use: Loan funds can be used to make payroll and associated costs, including health and retirement benefits, facilities costs, and debt service.
  • Loan Forgiveness: Employers that maintain employment for the eight weeks after the origination of the loan, or rehire employees by June 30, would be eligible to have their loans forgiven, essentially turning the loan into a grant. Section 1106.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): Creates emergency grants for eligible nonprofits and other applicants with 500 or fewer employees enabling them to receive checks for $10,000 within three days. Section 1110.

Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit: Creates a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met. The entity had to be an ongoing concern at the beginning of 2020, experienced a whole or partial shutdown, and had seen a drop in revenue of at least 50 percent in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019. The availability of the credit would continue each quarter until the organization’s revenue exceeds 80 percent of the same quarter in 2019. For tax-exempt organizations, the entity’s whole operations must be taken into account when determining eligibility. Notably, employers receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans would not be eligible for these credits. Section 2301.

Delayed Payment of Payroll Taxes: Allows employers to delay payment of the employer portion payroll taxes in 2020; payable in equal halves at the end of 2021 and 2022. Section 2301.

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Questions or Comments

Questions or concerns about this page? Would you like to report an error or an update? Contact Carly Wood at carlyw@hba.org.

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