RULE 1. Structure

(a)      Board. The Board is established as the statewide agency to administer the regulation of lawyers. The Board oversees a Grievance Commission as provided in Rule 9; Bar Counsel as provided in Rule 2; a Fee Arbitration Commission as provided in Rule 7; a Professional Ethics Commission as provided in Rule 8; and staff appointed by the Board and/or the Executive Director. The Board is a unitary entity responsible for educational, prosecutorial, and adjudicative functions; however, to avoid unfairness, these functions shall be separated within the agency insofar as practicable. The prosecutorial functions shall be directed by Bar Counsel and performed, insofar as practicable, by Board employees. The adjudicative functions shall be directed by the Board Clerk and performed, insofar as practicable, by Board employees, practicing lawyers, and public members serving on the Board, the Grievance Commission, and the Fee Arbitration Commission.

(b)      Appointment. Nine Board members shall be appointed by the Court, three of whom shall be public members appointed on the recommendation of the Governor and six of whom shall be lawyers admitted to practice in Maine. The terms of all members shall be for three years. No member shall serve more than two consecutive three-year terms, except that members may continue to serve until a replacement has been appointed.

(c)      Designation of Officers. The Court shall periodically designate one member of the Board as Chair and another as Vice Chair. The Chair, and in the Chair’s absence the Vice Chair, shall perform the duties associated with that office.

(d)      Board Action and Recusal.

(1)     Quorum. Five members shall constitute a quorum for any meeting of the Board. The Board may act through the concurrence or vote of a majority of the members present at a duly constituted meeting. After reasonable notice to all members and with the consent of all participating members, a meeting may be duly constituted and action taken by means of a telephone or video conference or other communications equipment enabling all members participating in the meeting to hear one another. Meetings of the Board shall be open to the public, except those portions of the meetings wherein the Board (1) consults with counsel pertaining to contemplated or pending litigation, or proceedings pending before the Grievance Commission, the Fee Arbitration Commission, and/or the Court; (2) considers matters pertaining to the personnel of the Board and/or appointments to the Board; or (3) considers other matters made confidential or private by these Rules, court order, or law.

(2)    Recusal. If a Grievance Commission panel finds probable cause for a public disciplinary hearing or authorizes Bar Counsel to file an Information and the respondent attorney is a member of the Board, the remaining members of the Board shall determine whether the nature of the allegations should disqualify that member from performing Board responsibilities until such time as the pending matter is concluded.

(3)    Representation Prohibition. No member of the Board may be legal counsel for a party in any proceedings under these Rules. When a member of his or her firm serves as legal counsel for a party in any proceeding under these Rules, the Board member shall be ineligible to perform Board responsibilities relating to that proceeding. The Board member shall remain eligible to perform Board responsibilities unrelated to that proceeding, provided that the Board member is timely screened from any participation in or relating to that proceeding, at both the Board member's firm and the Board.

(4)    Board members may not testify voluntarily in any proceedings under these Rules or as an expert witness in any court proceeding in the field of ethics.

(5)    Board members may not serve as probation monitors, and shall be recused from participating in any matter where a member of the Board member's firm is serving as a probation monitor.

(e)      Compensation. Board and Commission members shall receive no compensation for their services but may be reimbursed for travel and other expenses incidental to the performance of their duties.

(f)      Expenses and Financial Policies. Board expenses shall be paid out of the funds collected under these Rules. The Board may, subject to the Court’s approval, adopt financial policies and procedures that are not inconsistent with these Rules.

(g)      Roster of Lawyers. The Board shall maintain current information relating to all lawyers admitted to the Maine Bar including, but not limited to, the following:

(1)     full name and all names under which the lawyer has been admitted or practiced;

(2)     date of birth;

(3)    current office address, telephone number, and email address;

(4)    current residence address, telephone number, and email address;

(5)    date of admission to the Maine Bar;

(6)    registration status and the date of any transfer to or from a status;

(7)    social security or federal identification number;

(8)    other jurisdictions in which the lawyer is admitted and date of admission;

(9)    location and account numbers in which clients’ funds are held by the lawyer;

(10)    nature, date, and place of any discipline imposed and any reinstatements in any other jurisdiction;

(11)    whether the lawyer, if engaged in the private practice of law, maintains professional liability insurance (see Rule 4(b)(4));

(12)    if engaged in the private practice of law in Maine, the name of an active status attorney who has consented to serve as a proxy on behalf of the attorney (see Rule 32); and

(13)    the bar number assigned to every admitted lawyer.

         The information submitted pursuant to this rule shall be made available to the public with the exception of information deemed confidential by the Board.

(h)       Powers and Duties. The Board shall have the following powers and duties:

(1)     to propose rules of procedure for lawyer discipline proceedings for promulgation by the Court, and to comment on the enforceability of existing and proposed Maine Rules of Professional Conduct. In furtherance hereof, the Board may establish or designate such commissions, agencies, or persons to assist its study as it shall deem advisable;

(2)    to review periodically with the Court the operation of the Board;

(3)    to enforce attorney compliance with these Rules, the procedures and regulations adopted thereunder, and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct;

(4)     subject to the Court’s approval, to appoint, compensate, and supervise the Bar Counsel and the Executive Director;

(5)    to appoint and compensate other legal, prosecutorial, and administrative staff to assist the Board in its functions;

(6)    to appoint members to the Grievance Commission, Fee Arbitration Commission, and Professional Ethics Commission;

(7)     to inform the public about the existence and operation of the system and the disposition of each matter in which public discipline has been imposed, or a lawyer has been reinstated or readmitted;

(8)     to prepare and file with the Court for approval in May of each year its budget for the next fiscal year, with the Board’s recommendation as to the amount of fees to be assessed to members of the bar and ancillary organizations;

(9)     to prepare, approve, and file an Annual Report with the Court;

(10)    to adopt personnel and financial policies and procedures (see Rule 1(f));

(11)    to establish procedures for and supervise the registration of all attorneys admitted to the practice of law and compile and keep current a register for the Court of all persons admitted as members of the Maine Bar, and a record of the death, or termination or suspension of the right of any such person to practice law in Maine;

(12)    to adopt and publish its own rules of procedure and such regulations as are not inconsistent with these Rules;

(13)    to delegate, in its discretion, to the Chair or Vice Chair the power to act for the Board on administrative and procedural matters;

(14)    to furnish to the State Tax Assessor each year the names, addresses, social security or federal identification numbers, and other identifying information of all attorneys registered with the Board as the State Tax Assessor may require;

(15)    to receive and act on applications from organizations for approval to recognize, designate, or certify attorneys admitted to practice in Maine as having expertise in one or more areas of law;

(16)    to perform any adjudicative and/or appellate review functions as defined by these Rules;

(17)    to maintain the confidentiality of matters coming before the Board; and

(18)    any other powers and duties as are not inconsistent with these Rules.

(i)      Destruction of Confidential Documents. Upon conclusion of service, members shall take reasonable steps to destroy all documents, in paper or electronic format, relating to the proceedings of the Board and subject to the confidentiality provisions of these Rules.


Reporter’s Notes – June 2015

Rule 1(a) establishes the structure, and addresses generally the powers and duties, of the Board of Overseers of the Bar. It is based on Model Rule 2(A), and is in accord with former Maine Bar Rule 4(a). The rule establishes the Board as the agency charged with assisting the Court in the exercise of its inherent power to supervise the Maine Bar.

Rule 1(b) is based on Model Rule 2(B), and is consistent with former Maine Bar Rule 4(a) and (b). The rule continues Maine’s practice of appointment by the Court for attorney members, and appointment by the Court on the recommendation by the Governor for the public members.

Rule 1(c) is based on Model Rule 2(C), and former Maine Bar Rule 4(a). The committee adopted the existing Maine practice as to appointment by the Court of a Chair and Vice-Chair rather than adopting the Model Rules’ recommendation that the Board members elect their own Chair and Vice Chair.

Rule 1(d) is based on Model Rule 2(D), and former Maine Bar Rule 4(c). The committee adopted the language of former Maine Bar Rule 4(c) in its entirety.

Rule 1(e) is based on Model Rule 2(E). There is no direct analogue in the former Maine Bar Rules, and the committee adopted the language of Model Rule 2(E).

Rule 1(f) is based on Model Rule 5 and former Bar Rules 4(d)(1), 10(e), and 10(f). The rule is substantively consistent with current Maine practice.

Rule 1(g) is based on Model Rule 7. While there is no direct equivalent in the former Maine Bar Rules, the analogous provisions are contained in Rule 6(a) and (f) of those Rules. The committee felt that, due to the aging of the former Maine Bar, it was important that the registration system include information about an attorney’s proxy who will be able to take over an attorney’s practice in the event that the attorney dies or becomes incapacitated.

Rule 1(h) is based on Model Rule 2(G) and former Maine Bar Rule 4(d). The Rules are largely consistent. However, the committee felt the Board should not be involved in the appellate function of reviewing a panel’s determination. Consequently, the committee rejected the “appellate review function” of the Board envisioned by Model Rule 2(G)(4) and its equivalent contained in former Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(5)(A) to (C). Otherwise, the overall Board’s duties and powers remain largely the same as under former Maine Bar Rule 4(d).