4. Board of Overseers of the Bar

(a) The Board of Overseers of the Bar. The Court shall appoint a Board of Overseers of the Bar to act, as provided by these rules, with respect to the conduct and discipline of attorneys. The Board shall be composed of 9 members to be selected by the Court, of whom 3 shall be lay persons and 6 shall be members of the Bar of this State. The lay members shall be appointed by the Court on the recommendation of the Governor. The Court shall from time to time designate one member of the Board as Chair and another as Vice Chair. The Vice Chair shall perform the duties of the Chair in the absence or incapacity of the Chair.

(b) Term. Initial members of the Board shall serve as follows: three (one lay person and two attorneys) shall be appointed for a term of 3 years; three (one lay person and two attorneys) for a term of 2 years; and three (one lay person and two attorneys) for a term of 1 year. Appointments thereafter shall be for terms of 3 years. No member shall be appointed to more than 2 consecutive full terms but a member appointed for less than a full term (originally or to fill a vacancy) may serve 2 full terms in addition to such part of a full term, and a former member shall again be eligible for appointment after a lapse of 1 year.

(c) Board Action and 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 conference telephone or similar communications equipment enabling all members participating in the meeting to hear one another. Meetings of the Board of Overseers shall be open to the public, except those portions of the meetings wherein the Board (i) consults with counsel pertaining to contemplated or pending litigation, proceedings pending before the Grievance Commission, the Fee Arbitration Commission, and/or the Court; (ii) considers matters pertaining to the personnel of the Board and/or appointments to the Board or its components; and/or (iii) considers other matters made confidential or private by these rules, court order, or law.

(d) Responsibilities and Authority. The Board of Overseers of the Bar:

(1) shall, subject to the Court's approval, appoint and compensate Bar Counsel and the Executive Director;

(2) may appoint and compensate such deputy, assistant and special counsel and administrative and secretarial personnel as are needed to assist the Board in the performance of its duties;

(3) shall, consistent with Rule 6, establish procedures for and supervise the registration of all attorneys admitted to the practice of law in this State;

(4) shall compile and keep current a register for the Court of all persons admitted as members of the Bar of the State of Maine, and a record of the death, or termination or suspension of the right of any such person to practice law in this State;

(5) shall recommend to the Court the amount of the annual fee to be assessed pursuant to Rule 10;

(6) shall enforce compliance by attorneys with these Rules and the procedures and regulations adopted thereunder;

(7) may investigate, through the office of the Bar Counsel, and act with respect to the conduct of any attorney within the Court's jurisdiction upon the complaint or request of the Court, upon its own motion or upon the complaint of any person, including any justice or judge. In furtherance hereof:

(A) The Board may conduct hearings on formal charges of misconduct and make findings and issue its recommendations with respect thereto; and

(B) The Chair of the Board, or in the absence of the Chair, the Vice Chair, may designate two attorney members and one lay member to sit and act for the Board in the exercise of its authority hereunder, notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (c) of this Rule 4;

(8) may issue public reprimands to attorneys for misconduct and, in any case where suspension or disbarment of an attorney is to be sought or recommended, shall file an information with the Court;

(9) shall appoint at least 12 persons, not less than one-third of whom shall be lay persons and the balance (as close to two-thirds as may be) of whom shall be members of the Bar of this State, as a Grievance Commission, to conduct such hearings and to perform such other functions as may be provided for under these rules or assigned by the Board with reference to charges of misconduct;

(10) may refer to the Grievance Commission any grievance other than one involving a member of the Grievance Commission or a grievance which the Board, in its judgment, deems to be a matter of grave public concern;

(11) [Abrogated.]

(12) shall appoint at least 15 persons, not less than one third of whom shall be lay persons and the balance (as close to two-thirds as may be) of whom shall be attorneys who are admitted to the Bar of this State, as a Fee Arbitration Commission, to perform such functions as may be assigned to it by the Board with reference to fee disputes, consistent with Rule 9 hereof. In addition, the Board may appoint any number of lay alternate members to the Fee Arbitration Commission;

(13) may consult with State and local Bar Associations and their officers concerning any appointments which it is herein authorized to make;

(14) may, subject to the Court's approval, lease, purchase, improve or acquire equipment, supplies, office space, and real property, and make contracts and arrangements for the performance of administrative and other services required or appropriate in the performance of the Board's duties.

(14)(A) may, subject to the Court's approval, finance the acquisition and improvement of real property and, in furtherance thereof, execute and deliver promissory notes to evidence the Board's indebtedness and mortgages and related financing documents to secure the Board's debts. The Board Chair, or such other designee of the Board, in that capacity, at the time of such lease, purchase, or financing shall have the authority to execute any such documents on behalf of the Board.

(15) may invest or direct the investment of the fees or any portion thereof, received pursuant to these rules, and may cause funds to be deposited in any federally insured bank or financial institution in this State, provided, however, that the Board shall have no obligation to cause such fees or any portion thereof to be invested;

(16) shall prepare and file with the Court for approval in May of each year its budget for the next fiscal year, with its recommendation as to the amount of annual fee to be assessed pursuant to Rule 10;

(17) shall have the responsibility for establishing procedures for, and supervising, a continuous study of the Bar in its relation to the public and the courts for the purpose of making recommendations to the Court with respect to changes, additions or deletions in these rules or for such other action by the Court as it may deem advisable in its superintendence of the Bar. In furtherance hereof, the Board may establish or designate such commissions, agencies, or persons, to assist its study as it shall deem advisable;

(18) may adopt and publish its own rules of procedure and such regulations as are not inconsistent with these rules;

(19) may perform other acts necessary or proper in the performance of the Board's duties under these rules;

(20) shall appoint 8 attorneys who are admitted to the Bar of this State, as a Professional Ethics Commission, to perform such functions as may be assigned to it by the Board consistent with Rule 11;

(21) shall adopt the fiscal year used by the Judicial Department;

(22) shall, subject to the Court's approval, adopt personnel and financial policies and procedures, including accounting controls, purchasing, expense vouchering, and capital equipment inventories;

(23) shall, by April 1st of each year, furnish to the State Tax Assessor the names, addresses, social security or federal identification numbers, and other identifying information as the State Tax Assessor, may by rule require, of all attorneys registered with the Board.

(24) Shall receive and act on applications of organizations for approval to recognize, designate or certify attorneys admitted to practice in the State of Maine as having expertise in one or more areas of law. In furtherance hereof:

(A) The Board shall by regulation provide a procedure for the submission of applications for approval by organizations desiring to certify expertise, or by one or more attorneys admitted to practice in this State who seek approval for such an organization. The Board shall approve an organization if it finds that the organization:

(i) Accepts and impartially decides on applications for certification from all lawyers licensed to practice in the jurisdictions served by the organization;

(ii) Applies to all applicants objective and consistent standards relevant to the determination of special competence in one or more particular fields of law;

(iii) Bases its decisions on an examination, investigation, or other procedures offering reasonable assurance of accuracy in ascertaining whether the standards have been met; and

(iv) Is governed or managed by attorneys possessed of expertise equivalent to the expertise certified or otherwise recognized by that organization.

(B) The Board may provide for the investigation of applications submitted to it under this paragraph by, or under the direction of, Bar Counsel and may invite public comment on any application.

(C) The Board may conduct hearings on applications for approval either as a committee of the whole or by delegation to three or more of its members.

(D) The Board may approve without further investigation an organization that has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), if the Board finds that the ABA has applied criteria similar to those set forth in subparagraph (A).

(E) The Board may at any time revoke its approval of any application upon finding that the organization no longer meets the requirements of subparagraph (A).

(e) Immunity. Members of the Board, its staff and its Commissions shall be immune from liability for any conduct in the course of their official duties under any provision of the Maine Bar Rules.