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Bell Nunnally’s Catherine Helm in ABA Article Explores Impact for Women of Texas’ Courts Proposed Remote Attendance Embrace

27 Feb 2023 North America

Bell Nunnally Associate Catherine E. Helm authored the American Bar Association (ABA) Woman Advocate article “Opening the Gilded Cage: The Significance of Texas Remote Hearing Rule.” The forward-thinking piece, written before the Texas Supreme Court approved new rules of Texas Civil Procedure, forecasted the effects of formal acceptance of remote court proceedings. The piece advances the argument that then-proposed changes to Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 21d and 500.10 embrace a post-COVID reality where hybrid and in-person can both be acceptable attendance methods and constitute a major turning point and equalizer for women in the law.

Helm notes that women have been “overwhelmingly bearing the weight of work-family balance for decades.” Because women have been statistically far more likely to seek remote work than their male counterparts, the remote attendance accessibility under the proposed rules presents a unique opportunity that helps women better strike the elusive work-family balance.

According to Helm, the proposed rules are important for another symbolic reason. Helm comments, “the proposed Texas Rules of Civil Procedure potentially do more than bridge the gap between domestic and professional responsibilities. Most significantly, the remote attendance framework in the proposed rules could eviscerate dated arguments that once justified keeping women from participating in court proceedings altogether.”

While noting that the embrace of technology itself can create new access issues while solving others, Helm concludes by sounding a hopeful note, “So long as all participants are meaningfully provided access to the courts, some remotely and some in person, the proposed Texas Rules of Civil Procedure break a barrier and usher in a new age of courtroom participation, one that women in particular have historical and modern cause to welcome.”

To read the full article, please click here.