The ABA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force

This webpage is intended as a national source of information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the delivery of legal services. It includes resources on remote service delivery, court access and rules changes, legal needs, public benefits programs, and pro bono mobilization.  We appreciate receiving new information for inclusion on the site, preferably links to dynamic content that is updated regularly.  Please contact Denise Dempsey at denise.dempsey@americanbar.org with submissions for consideration.

About the Task Force

In response to the growing legal needs of Americans arising from the coronavirus (COVID-19), the American Bar Association has created a nationwide task force of volunteer lawyers and judges from across the legal profession. The task force will identify the legal needs arising from the pandemic, make recommendations to address those needs, and help mobilize volunteer lawyers and legal professionals to assist people who need help.

The task force includes experts in disaster response; health law; insurance; legal needs of families to protect basic human needs such as food, shelter, medical and employment benefits; criminal justice; domestic violence; civil rights and social justice.

Practice Tools and Remote Work

COVID-19 CLE and Videos

Resource Kits

  • Bloomberg Law is providing free access to comprehensive legal resources relating to COVID-19.  The links below include information on judicial operations, state agency announcements and emergency rules, state-by-state unemployment insurance benefits, labor protections, checklists and toolkits, and state legislative activity.
  • LexisNexis offers a Lexis Practice Advisor Coronavirus Resource Kit to help U.S. attorneys manage the evolving novel coronavirus  (COVID-19) crisis. The Kit features select content addressing emerging issues related to coronavirus (COVID-19) across a variety of practice areas.
  • BakerHostetler has established an online resource center to help address and answer legal questions about COVID-19, including actions business may or must take to address to protect employees and business operations.
  • The National Institutes of Health offer guidance with work/life balance resources and many other topics with regards to telework.
  • Leadership Strategies provides a free webinar entitled, "The Secrets to Virtual Facilitation."
  • The National Conference of Bar Presidents offers guidance and resources on tools to assist with remote work for Bar Leaders.
  • National Association of Bar Executives has dedicated a resource page for bar professionals facing challenges in light of COVID-19.
  • The ABA’s Cybersecurity Legal Task Force has practice tools for remote work and legal needs.  They have resources related to cybersecurity and data protection in the employer/workplace and teleworking, as well as information on data protection in the health industry. 
  • Fastcase is working to ensure lawyers have access to resources available to them. The Fastcase COVID-19 resource hub, bringing together legislative and government updates and COVID-19 content across leading news media sources. 
  • The ABA Committee on Disaster Response & Preparedness has resources for lawyers, bar associations and the justice system to help them prepare for and respond to disasters; provide resources to assist lawyers and the public recover from disasters; and ensure the rule of law in times of disaster.
  • The ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs provides mental health resources for the legal profession during COVID-19.
  • The ABA Law Student Division’s blog, Before the Bar, has coronavirus resources and information for law students.
  • Sidley Austin LLP has produced numerous podcasts, a brand new “e-magazine” as well as a COVID-19 resource center.
  • Winston & Strawn LLP has developed a COVID-19 Client Resource Center which houses over 150 pieces of content in various practice areas ranging from Data Privacy & Security, Capital Markets, Energy, Pro Bono and Wellness Initiatives.
  • The ABA Section of Litigation has a dedicated Coronavirus (COVID-19) page on articles and resources.
  • Arnold & Porter has established a multidisciplinary Coronavirus Task Force with the crisis management, regulatory, litigation and transactional expertise necessary to plan for and navigate the legal and public policy impact of this pandemic.
  • Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP developed a resource page which includes dynamic information related to updates, alerts and programming regarding coronavirus and the impact on clients and various industries.
  • Standford Law School has a COVID-19 Memo Database, developed and maintained by the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University and Cornerstone Research.  The Database aggregates 5,260 memoranda in a searchable format designed to help users quickly identify relevant information.  These memoranda were generated by leading U.S. law firms, the four major audit firms, and a leading insurance broker.
  • The Practising Law Institute (PLI) has a dedicated page on Coronavirus Developments which offers resources on the latest legal developments, changes to CLE requirements, PLI program updates and more.
  • FEMA and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are collecting and sharing best practices for responding to COVID-19. Read FEMA Coronavirus Emergency Management Best Practices and the HHS Novel Coronavirus Resources page
  • The executive leadership of the National Council for Bar Presidents has been producing COVID-19 response videos with bar leaders and others about their responses to the pandemic.

National Affinity Bars COVID-19 Resources

Court Access and Rules Changes

Remote Notarization

  • The National Notary Association updates their site frequently on details about state emergency actions.  Please note some emergency orders only cover documents to be filed in court and some do not allow remote witnessing.
  • The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel has prepared a state-by-state compilation of information about remorse notarization and witnessing of documents.

Federal Administrative Agencies

Legal Needs

  • As part of the 21st Century Lawyers Virtual Sessions, the National Conference of Bar Presidents is checking in with bar leaders and industry professionals to see how they are providing services to their members in this trying time.
  • The ABA Commission on Disability Rights hosted two captioned webinars on the impact of COVID-19 on the legal rights of persons with disabilities focused on the discriminatory rationing of treatment and lack of special education services:
  • The National Health Law Program is dedicated to protecting and expanding access to health rights for low-income and underserved individuals. Their site provides an assortment of resources related to coronavirus. 
  • The National Resource Center for Reaching Victims has resources to support victims of crimes in response to COVID-19. This site includes recordings from their national strategy sessions, webinars on critical topics and tip sheets. 
  • The National Disaster Legal Aid Resource Center website includes resources on COVID-19 legal response needs and maintains a listserv for sharing resources and strategies.
  • Tribal Law and Policy Institute has launched an Indian Country resource page with information and resources concerning tribal, state and federal initiatives, best practices, and service provision strategies for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The National Center on Law & Elder Rights has a training on Strategies for Providing Remote Legal Services to Older Adults.
  • Declarations for Death Penalty Representation During COVID-19 (April 3, 2020)
    The ABA Death Penalty Representation Project signed Declarations to address issues of inadequate defense of persons facing the death penalty during the pandemic. Read the Declarations here and here
  • Support of H.R. 6414, the Correctional Facility Emergency Response Act of 2020 (April 7, 2020)
     ABA thanked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler for introducing H.R. 6414, the COVID-19 Correctional Facility Emergency Response Act of 2020. 
  • The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) has launched a web page that consolidates resources from across the country to assist the access to justice community in addressing the many challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence has compiled a list of resources for survivors, lawyers, domestic violence providers and advocates.
  • ABA Letter Regarding the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Memorandum (April 10, 2020)
    Regarding Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Director’s March 17 Memorandum granting limited waivers from some of the federal contract compliance requirements that would otherwise be applicable to contracts for Coronavirus relief efforts, ABA recognizes that in this time of national emergency, the federal government needs to move quickly to acquire life-saving necessary goods and services. Nonetheless, the ABA has repeatedly, for decades, supported affirmative action, and even in these trying times we urge the Department to remain steadfastly and visibly committed to affirmative action and equal opportunity for minorities, women, the disabled, and veterans. ​
  • ABA Legal Fact Check: State powers and public health during pandemics
  • Equal Rights Advocates is hosting COVID-19 resources for workers and student survivors, Title IX administrators, and families.
  • ABA Legal Fact Check examines how COVID-19 is raising questions — and legal challenges — to employers’ actions related to keeping their workplace safe and to workers’ rights to seek reasonable accommodation under federal and state law.
  • The Legal Services Funders Network in the Bay Area of California is funding a minimum of 25 fellowships for 2020 graduates of Bay Area law firms to spend six months with legal services organizations.  The initiative addresses increased legal needs relating to COVID-19 and reduced employment prospects for this year’s law school graduates.
  • National Association of Counsel for Children has resources to help keep child welfare legal community informed and prepared to safeguard rights and wellbeing of children and families. 
  • The Children’s Defense Fund responds to Coronavirus and offers resources for protecting children and families.
  • Department of Health & Human Services provides federal guidance on addressing priority court hearings, parent-child contact, timing of legal decisions, and other legal issues.
  • The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership has a variety of links related to legal needs and emerging legal issues pertinent to civil legal aid and medical-legal partnership fields.
  • Online legal assistance portals in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio show jump in traffic, increase in searches about unemployment and government benefits.
  • The Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice developed a multi-part webinar series exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic highlights critical legal issues of criminal justice, civil rights, human rights, and economic concerns, to name a few.

Children, Youth and Families

Criminal Legal Issues and Fines and Fees

  • Fines & Fees Justice Center has recommended policies to assist jurisdictions across the country in dealing with COVID-19. The Center also maintains a COVID-19 Fines and Fees Policy Tracker, and policy recommendations for people in the criminal justice system. 
  • ABA Support for H.R. 2868, the Ensuring Quality Access to Legal (EQUAL) Defense Act (February 27, 2020)
    The ABA commends senators for their introduction of the Ensuring Quality Access to Legal (EQUAL) Defense Act in each chamber of Congress (S.1377 and H.R. 2868, respectively). The EQUAL Defense Act would help protect the constitutional rights of defendants who are unable to afford a lawyer, increase indigent defense representation in local and tribal public defense systems, and provide needed relief to the men and women providing public defense services every day.
  • Statement Re: Provisions for prisons and jails in COVID-19 economic stimulus package (March 27, 2020)
    Prisons and jails are some of the highest-risk environments for the spread of COVID-19. The ABA is encouraged that the COVID-19 economic stimulus package approved by Congress includes provisions to allow prisons greater access to personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing materials. The ABA is further encouraged by the bill’s provisions that expand use of home detention and electronic monitoring. The availability of these alternatives to incarceration should be considered particularly for individuals whose cases are still pending. The ABA is disappointed the bill fails to include provisions to increase access to release for older and infirm prisoners, but commends a separate action taken by the Department of Justice which directs federal prison authorities to identify elderly and medically compromised inmates for home confinement. The ABA also applauds state and local prosecutors, courts, law enforcement officers and corrections officers who are seeking practical alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders, especially during this national emergency.

Consumer

  • Special alert for VA, SSI recipients who don’t file a tax return and have dependents.
  • This fact sheet from the Social Security Administration provides more information on how individuals who receive SSI and Social Security benefits will receive stimulus payments and any additional actions they need to take.
    • During the COVID-19 pandemic, guardians for older adults and adults with disabilities may have questions about fulfilling their duties and staying connected to people they represent. Guardianship experts, including the National Guardianship Association, ABA Commission on Law and Aging, and the National Center for State Courts, have created a FAQ document with answers, actionable tips, and links to key resources.

Employment

Eviction, Housing, and Homelessness

Loan Defaults, Deferrals, Forgiveness

Immigration

 

Legal Services Corporation; Legal Services Providers

  • ABA Urges Congress to Include Supplemental Emergency LSC Funding in Stimulus Bill (March 19, 2020)
    ABA letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urged them to act quickly to pass supplemental emergency appropriations for the Legal Services Corporation to help address the increasing legal needs of low-income Americans caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  • The Federal Reserve's significant reduction in interest rates is reducing Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts, a significant source of funding for legal aid programs across the United States. This reduction may be compounded by reduction in revenue from court filing fees, another source of funding for legal aid programs in many states, as courts limit their operations as a result of the coronavirus. Law360 has this item on these developments.
  • ABA Requests Additional Emergency LSC Funding to Address Pandemic (April 8, 2020)
    ABA thanked leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for including $50 million of emergency funding for the Legal Service Corporation in the CARES Act of 2020, which was 50% of the $100 million that LSC originally requested. The letter also asked the committee leaders to include the remaining $50 million in the next stimulus bill to help address the "tidal wave" of low-income Americans needing legal assistance due to the dramatic spike of evictions, foreclosures, domestic violence, family law issues, and other legal problems caused by the pandemic.
  • The Justice in Government Project and NLADA have created a new resource that provides information about COVID-19 related appropriations, law, and agency guidance that can help support legal aid providers and courts. It contains information on non-LSC federal funding sources including:
    •  AmeriCorps
    • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
    • Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
    • Edward Bryne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant
    • Fair Housing Initiatives Program Education and Outreach (EOI)
    • Family Violence Prevention Services (FVPSA) formula grants
    • Older Americans Act
    • Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program
    • HHS HRSA Section 330 funding for health centers
    • STOP (Services, Training, Officers, and Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant
    • Title IV-E foster care program

July 2020 Bar Examination Changes

Public Benefits

  • The United States Department of Labor has provided guidance to federal employees who develop COVID-19 in the course of their federal duties about their right to workers’ compensation benefits.
  • The ABA’s Governmental Affairs Office provides updates and resources as it relates to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including information on the CARES Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Paul Weiss developed a website with information about both government benefits and relief programs run by non-profit organizations.
  • ABA Letter Regarding the Impact of COVID-19 on Associations, Nonprofits, and Other Tax-Exempt Organizations (March 12, 2020)
    The ABA urges the House and Senate to include associations, nonprofits, and other tax-exempt organizations within any federal aid packages or supplemental appropriations measures pursued as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • The ABA's Washington Letter provides a summary of the Paycheck Protection Program included in the CARES Act. 
  • The ABA's Government Affairs Office has information about the state issued stay at home orders and information on legal services.
  • The District of Columbia Bar Pro Bono Center has prepared guidance for non-profits and small businesses eligible for economic relief under the CARES Act.
  • ABA Letter Regarding Legislative Proposals for Paid Family, Medical, and Sick Leave (February 4, 2020)
    Letter to the House Ways and Means Committee commended them for holding a hearing on legislative proposals for job-guaranteed paid family and medical leave and asking that they also consider proposals to provide paid sick leave.
  • As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, the CARES Act directs the IRS to issue Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to eligible individuals, married couples, and families with children. The American Bar Association Tax Section offers information to help promote the availability of these payments, especially for those who assist lower-income clients, non-filers, and other vulnerable populations, and to warn against scams. Please see the ABA Tax Section’s information at https://bit.ly/2WmVgsI and share widely with your colleagues and networks.
  • Davis and Polk created a guide on the CARES Act for Gig Workers and Others Who Work for Themselves to help self employed and gig workers navigate the legal and economic obstacles the pandemic presents them.
  • FEMA announced approval of 30 states and the District of Columbia for its Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training program. Crisis Counseling, part of FEMA’s Individual Assistance programs, is a mental health assistance program that provides short-term interventions, intake, and referral mental health services for disaster survivors.

Pro Bono Mobilization

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Legal Media/News

 

 

State and Local Government Action

National Conference of State Legislatures

 Council of State Governments Website 

  • The Council of State Governments has collected state-by-state information on resources and restrictions relating to COVID-19.
  • The Council of State Governments has collected Executive Orders relating to COVID-19 and organized them by state and subject matter.

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