RULE 4. Registration

(a)      Requirement. Every lawyer admitted to active practice in Maine shall pay to the Board an annual registration fee for each fiscal year beginning July 1st. The annual registration fee, established by the Court on recommendation of the Board, shall be used to defray the costs of the Board and of other components of the system of lawyer regulation under other rules established by the Court, and for those other purposes the Court shall from time to time designate.

Additionally, in accordance with the Rules for the Maine Assistance Program for Lawyers Rule 1(C)(1) and the Maine Rules for the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection Rule 3(a), every lawyer admitted to active practice and full-time and active retired judges required to register in accordance with these Rules shall pay assessments in support of the mission of these entities. The assessments shall be established by the Court.

(b)      Registration. To facilitate the collection of the annual registration fee provided for in Rule 4(a), commencing July 1st each year, every lawyer admitted to practice in Maine is required to complete, certify and file registration documents, which shall be on forms prescribed by the Board. Each lawyer shall file with the Board a supplemental statement of any change in the information previously submitted within 30 days of the change. Registration documents and payments received after August 31st will be assessed a non-waivable late fee.

All persons first becoming subject to these Rules by admission to practice in Maine after April 1st shall file the registration documents required by this rule at the time of admission, but no annual registration fee shall be payable until the next annual registration collection. Failure to register shall result in the issuance of a notice of administrative suspension pursuant to Rule 4(h).

Unless otherwise exempted, each lawyer admitted to the active practice of law shall annually file the following:

(1)    Registration Statement. Each lawyer admitted to the active practice of law in Maine shall file a registration statement with the Board setting forth the information stated in Rule 1(g) and such other information as the Court or the Board may direct.

(2)    CLE Report. See Rule 5(a)(1).

(3)    IOLTA Trust Account Report. See Rule 6(b).

(4)    Insurance Disclosure. Each lawyer admitted to the active practice of law in Maine shall annually certify to the Board: (A) whether the lawyer is engaged in the private practice of law; (B) if engaged in the private practice of law, whether the lawyer is currently covered by professional liability insurance; (C) whether the lawyer intends to maintain insurance during the period of time the lawyer is engaged in the private practice of law; and (D) whether the lawyer is exempt from the provisions of this rule because the lawyer is engaged in the practice of law as a full-time government lawyer, or is employed by an organization in a capacity in which the lawyer does not represent clients other than the employing organization. Each lawyer admitted to the active practice of law in Maine who reports being covered by professional liability insurance shall notify the Board in writing if the insurance policy providing coverage lapses, is no longer in effect, or terminates for any reason. Notice must be delivered to the Board within 30 days of the lapse, cancellation, or termination, unless the policy is renewed or replaced without substantial interruption. The information submitted pursuant to this rule shall be made available to the public by such means as designated by the Board.

(c)      Exemptions.

(1)    Registration. Full-time and active retired judges who are members of the Maine or federal judiciary shall be exempt from the payment of the annual registration fee during the time they serve in office. Judges shall remain on the roll of lawyers in judicial status, and may retire in judicial status or resume active practice upon completion of their tenure in office, by filing registration documents and paying the annual registration fee required for the year in which active practice is resumed. Additionally, lawyers who have notified the Board that they are (a) members of the armed forces of the United States who are on active duty outside of Maine, or (b) judicial law clerks, or (c) emeritus attorneys, shall be exempt from the payment of the annual registration fee. Judicial law clerks and emeritus attorneys shall remain on the roll of lawyers during the tenure of their service and annually file registration documents.

(2)    Continuing Legal Education. See Rule 5(a)(5).

(3)    IOLTA Accounts. See Rule 6(a)(2).

(d)      Receipt Demonstrating Compliance with Registration Filing. Within 30 days of the receipt of a lawyer’s completed registration documents and payment of all fees, the Board shall acknowledge compliance with the annual registration requirements.

(e)      Application for Transfer to Inactive Status. Any lawyer, not under an administrative suspension or the subject of a disciplinary investigation or proceeding under these Rules, who has retired or is not engaged in practice shall advise the Board in writing of the lawyer’s desire to assume inactive status and discontinue the practice of law. Upon the filing of the notice, the lawyer shall no longer be eligible to practice law in Maine. The Board shall remove a lawyer on inactive status from the list of classified active lawyers until and unless the lawyer requests and is granted reinstatement to the active rolls. The lawyer shall also comply with the provisions of Rule 4(k).

(f)      Application for Emeritus Status.

(1)    Purpose. The purpose of enacting emeritus status is to encourage and provide retiring attorneys, or non-practicing attorneys who have chosen other career paths, who otherwise may choose inactive status, the opportunity to provide pro bono publico legal services under the auspices of an Approved Legal Service Organization.

(2)    Application. Any lawyer who has discontinued the practice of law and who has given the notice required by Rule 4(e) but who wishes to provide pro bono publico legal services without compensation or expectation of compensation shall advise the Board by filing an emeritus status statement indicating he or she will limit his or her active legal practice to providing pro bono publico legal services under the auspices of an Approved Legal Service Organization, as defined in these Rules. The emeritus status statement shall be signed by an authorized representative of the Approved Legal Service Organization under whose auspices the lawyer will provide such legal services. A lawyer who has assumed emeritus status shall not be relieved of his or her obligation to comply with annual registration requirements.

(g)      Administrative Suspension.

(1)    An administrative suspension shall not be considered a per se violation of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct and shall not constitute the imposition of discipline. The Board may, however, institute separate proceedings to determine whether discipline is appropriate.

(2)    Failure to file Registration Documents. Unless excused on grounds of financial hardship or for other good cause pursuant to procedures established by the Board, any lawyer who fails to submit completed registration documents under the provisions of Rule 4(b) or pay the annual registration fee by August 31st shall be suspended provided notice is given under the provisions in Rule 4(h). The suspended attorney shall comply with the provisions of Rule 4(k).

(3)    Failure to File State Tax Returns. Whenever, pursuant to Section 175 of Title 36 of the Maine Revised Statutes, the State Tax Assessor notifies the Board of the Assessor's final determination to prevent renewal or reissuance of a "license or certificate of authority" for a lawyer to practice law, the lawyer shall be immediately suspended provided notice is given under the provisions in Rule 4(h). The suspended lawyer shall comply with the provisions of Rule 4(k).

(4)    Failure to Comply with a Support Order. Whenever, pursuant to Section 2201 of Title 19-A of the Maine Revised Statutes, the Department of Health and Human Services certifies in writing to the Board that, in compliance with the statutory procedure: the Department has determined that a lawyer is in noncompliance with a support order; the lawyer has failed to appeal the Department's decision; or a final judgment has been entered against the lawyer on the lawyer's petition for judicial review, the lawyer shall be immediately suspended provided notice is given under the provisions in Rule 4(h). The suspended lawyer shall comply with the provisions of Rule 4(k).

(5)    Failure to File an Unemployment Tax Return or to Pay an Unemployment Tax Assessment. Whenever, pursuant to Section 1232 of Title 26 of the Maine Revised Statutes, the State Commissioner of Labor or Director of Employment Security certifies in writing to the Board that the Commission has determined in compliance with the statutory procedure that a lawyer is in noncompliance with the unemployment compensation statute, and the lawyer has either failed to pursue an appeal from the Commission's decision or a judgment has been entered against the lawyer on the lawyer's petition for judicial review, the lawyer shall be immediately suspended provided notice is given under the provisions of Rule 4(h). The suspended lawyer shall comply with the provisions of Rule 4(k).

(h)      Notice of Administrative Suspension. The Board shall provide notice of any administrative suspensions to the suspended attorney in accordance with the requirements of Rule 15. This notice of suspension shall not be effective until 30 days after the date of mailing. A lawyer who, after the date of the mailing of a notice of suspension but before the effective date of the suspension, files with the Board (1) registration documents and the required registration fee or (2) a certificate issued by the State agency pursuant to Rule 4(g)(2), (3), and (4) stating that the attorney is currently in good standing and has satisfied any obligations and paid all fees due, shall be deemed to be in compliance with this rule and shall not be suspended for failure to comply with the obligations that led to the notice of suspension.

(i)      Reinstatement from Administrative Suspension. Any lawyer suspended under Rule 4(g)(2) shall be reinstated by administrative order if, within five years of the effective date of the suspension for nonpayment, the lawyer remits to the Board a reinstatement fee, submits all required registration documents, and makes payment of all arrears.

If an attorney is administratively suspended pursuant to Rule 4(g)(3), (4) or (5), that attorney must also submit a certificate issued by the appropriate state agency stating that the attorney is currently in good standing and has satisfied any obligations and paid any sums due.

A lawyer who has been administratively suspended must complete the continuing legal education requirements of Rule 5(a)(1) for each year the attorney has been suspended, but need not complete more than 22 credit hours for that entire period of suspension, provided that: (1) no more than one half of the credits are earned through in-house courses, self-study, or a combination thereof; and (2) at least two credit hours are primarily concerned with the issues of ethics or professionalism education. Additionally, a lawyer who has been suspended within the previous five (5) years for non-compliance with the continuing legal education requirements of Rule 5(a)(1) shall be assessed an additional reinstatement fee, as may be set by the Board.

Any lawyer who fails to seek reinstatement within five years of the effective date of the administrative suspension shall be required to petition for reinstatement under Rule 29.

(j)      Reinstatement from Inactive Status. Any lawyer on inactive status under Rule 4(e) shall be reinstated by administrative order of the Board if the lawyer seeks reinstatement within five years of the effective date of transfer to inactive status. Any lawyer who fails to seek reinstatement within five years of the effective date of transfer to inactive status may, in the discretion of the Court, be required to petition for reinstatement under Rule 29.

In addition to all other requirements, an inactive lawyer seeking reinstatement shall remit to the Board a reinstatement fee and an arrearage registration payment equal to the total registration fees that the lawyer would have been obligated to pay the Board had the lawyer remained actively registered to practice in Maine during that period of inactive status, but no more than $1,000.

(k)      Notice to Clients, Adverse Parties, and Other Counsel.

(1)     A lawyer who transfers to inactive status or who has been administratively suspended shall:

         (A)    notify all clients being represented in pending matters;

         (B)    notify any co-counsel in pending matters; and

         (C)    notify any opposing counsel in pending matters, or in the absence of opposing counsel, the adverse parties, of the matter and that the lawyer is therefore disqualified to act as lawyer after the effective date of the order. The notice shall state the client’s place of residence.

(2)   Special Notice. The Board may direct the issuance of notice to such financial institutions or others as may be necessary to protect the interests of clients or other members of the public.
(3)   Duty to Maintain Records. The attorney shall keep and maintain records of the steps taken to accomplish the requirements of Rule 4(k)(1)(A)-(C), and shall make those records available to the Board on request.
(4)   Return of Client Property. The attorney shall deliver to all clients being represented in pending matters any papers or other property to which they are entitled and shall notify them and any counsel representing them of a suitable time and place where the papers and other property may be obtained, calling attention to any urgency for obtaining the papers or other property.
(5)   Refund of Fees. Within 10 days after entry of the order imposing disbarment or suspension, the attorney shall refund any part of any fees paid in advance that have not been earned.
(6)   Withdrawal from Representation. In the event the client does not obtain another lawyer before the effective date of the administrative suspension, it shall be the responsibility of the attorney to move in the court, agency, or tribunal in which the proceeding is pending for leave to withdraw. The attorney shall in that event file with the court, agency, or tribunal before which the litigation is pending a copy of the notice to opposing counsel or adverse parties.
(7)   New Representation Prohibited. Upon the effective date of the administrative suspension, the attorney shall not undertake any new legal matters. The attorney shall take such action as is necessary to cause the removal of any indicia of lawyer, counselor at law, or similar title.
(8)   Affidavit Filed with the Board. Within 10 days after the effective date of the suspension order, the attorney shall file with the Board Clerk an affidavit showing:
         (A) compliance with the provisions of this rule;
         (B) all other state, federal and administrative jurisdictions to which the lawyer is admitted to practice; and
         (C) residence or other addresses where communications may thereafter be directed.

(l)      Notice of Registration Status Change. The Board shall transmit, electronically or otherwise, notice of attorney status changes to all State, Federal, and Tribal Courts in Maine and such other organizations as determined by the Board.

(m)      Certificate of Good Standing.

(1)    Issuance. All certificates related to the good standing or lack thereof of members of the Maine Bar shall be issued by the Board Clerk on behalf of the Court.

(2)   Certificate Requests. A lawyer’s request for a certificate of good standing shall be made in writing to the Board Clerk and shall be accompanied by a requisite fee as established by the Board.

(3)   Form of Certificate. The certificate shall be on a form prescribed by the Court and shall include the attorney's full name, the attorney's date of admission to the Maine Bar, the attorney's current registration status, any public disciplinary record if requested, the date of certification by the Board Clerk, signature of the Executive Clerk of the Cour,t and the seal of the Court.


Reporter’s Notes – June 2015

Rule 4(a) is based on former Model Rule 8(A), and is consistent with language contained in Maine Bar Rule 6(a).

Rule 4(b) is based on Model Rule 8(A) and (C), and is consistent with language contained in former Maine Bar Rule 6(a)(1). The committee proposed new language incorporated into Rule 4(b)(4), requiring that attorneys annually certify whether they are currently covered by professional liability insurance. The rule is also revised to require that registration paperwork must be received by the Board no later than August 31st as opposed to being postmarked by August 31st. Lastly, the revised rule also eliminates the proration of registration fees for new admittees registering with the Board after April 1st. Instead, new admittees will be assessed a full registration fee constituting payment for the current and subsequent year.

Rule 4(c) is based on Model Rule 8(B), and is consistent with language contained in former Maine Bar Rules 6(a)(1), 10(a), and 12.

Rule 4(d) is based on Model Rule 8(F) and is consistent with language contained in former Maine Bar Rule 6(a)(1). Rule 4(d) is based on Model Rule 8(F) and is consistent with language contained in former Maine Bar Rule 6(a)(1).

Rule 4(f) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 6(d). There is no equivalent language in the Model Rules.

Rule 4(g) is based on Model Rule 8(H) and is consistent with language contained in former Maine Bar Rule 6(b)(1) to (4). The revised rule makes clear that the failure to file registration documents or receipt of a notice described in Rule 4(G)(3) to (5) will result in an administrative suspension.

Rule 4(h) is based on Model Rule 8(G) and is analogous to language contained in former Maine Bar Rule 6(b)(1) to (5).

Rule 4(i) is based in part on Model Rule 8(G), and mirrors the provisions in former Maine Bar Rules 6(b)(2) to (5) and (7), 6(c), and 7.3(j)(1)and (5)(F). The revised rule extends the time period from 6 months to 5 years wherein an attorney may be reinstated without petitioning the Court.

Rule 4(j) is based on Model Rule 8(I) and is consistent with language contained in former Maine Bar Rule 6(c).

Rule 4(k) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 7.3(i)(2). There is no equivalent language in the Model Rules. The revised rule calls for suspended attorneys to file an affidavit with the Board within ten days attesting to compliance with the rule. The former rule called for 30 days.

Rule 4(m) is based in part on Board Regulation No. 10. The revised rule calls for the Board, on behalf of the Court, to issue Certificates of Good Standing.