Alameda County
Bar Association

COVID-19 Update From ACBA CEO Tiela Chalmers 
A CDC graphic of the COVID-19 virus via MGN

Note from the CEO

Tiela Chalmers
VIDEO: ACBA CEO Tiela Chalmers Fireside Chat

We have endeavored to keep you posted in real time; I am going to try to catch you up on what is going on with the ACBA and our services, and the services we hope will help you get through this challenging time. 

Staff all working remotely:  All 25 of the ACBA and Legal Access staff have been 100% remote since Wednesday, March 11th.  We are very lucky that we have been operating with cloud-based IT for the last 7 years or so, and had been experimenting with having staff telecommute one day a week, so we were very well positioned to take this sudden step.  We are in constant touch, and it’s going well.

Free online CLE, including for Affinity Bar members:  As we hope you know, we got our online CLE platform up and running early, in order to continue to provide you with remote learning (including the chance to ask questions).  While some programs have been postponed in order to allow people to do the networking that is one of the great things about these programs, many are going ahead.  The platform was designed to assess a small charge for remote access (in order to help us pay for it), but for the duration of the crisis we are waiving that cost.  We are also extending free online CLE to our affinity bar partners, as we are all in this together.  Stand by for programs on how to run a remote business.

Virtual social events:  We are working hard to bring you convenient and creative social opportunities while we are all stuck at home.  Zoom socials (with break out rooms to allow small group discussion), online meditation, Zumba, and yoga classes, remote Netflix watching parties, remote games – we are pushing our imaginations to keep you connected. If you have ideas – reach out to me!  Our usual Spring Open House has been postponed to June 10th, and we will of course continue to monitor the situation.

CAAP and LRS panels still going: CAAP is still getting new cases, and the Court is conducting arraignments; panel members continue to work on their existing cases.  The LRS phone line is open – while calls have initially been down, we expect they will start going up soon, as Covid-19 related questions start coming in.  Most LRS attorneys are seeing clients remotely.  LRS’s pilot program to explore online case placement couldn’t come at a better time!  It is set to launch at the beginning of April. 

Providing free legal services to low-income people:  The most challenging thing for us is how to continue to support the clients that we see through the 30 clinics Legal Access puts on each month.  With staff, volunteers, and clients all at home, we are working frantically to get our remote pro bono platform up and running  – our target is early April. 

National work:  We have been collaborating with legal services providers and bar associations across the state and the country, sharing ideas and collaborating to gather FAQs on legal questions related to the pandemic.  We are on weekly calls with the Consumer Attorneys of California and the Association of Business Trial Attorneys. Check out our resources at – the website we run.

Courts: We, along with section leadership, are keeping in contact with the court as they also navigate the unprecedented/uncertain times we are in. We are on weekly calls with the Presiding Judge who is doing her best to help the court navigate this crisis. Check out our coverage on our website for the latest news:

More broadly, please make sure you’ve read the updated Executive Order from the Governor, which states that Professional Services, including legal services, are defined as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities and critical sector services. That said, we do encourage you to work remotely and to set up your employees to work remotely too. We’re working on a training program for how to set up and run a remote business. It’s up to us to help flatten the curve and keep our community’s most vulnerable safe.

Please take good care, and play it safe.  Keep me posted on how you are doing, and if there’s anything we can do to help.

Tiela Chalmers, Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel
Alameda County Bar Association and Legal Access Alameda
510.302.2208 | 510.452.2224 fax | |
Pronouns: she/her/hers