Board of Overseers of the Bar
The Board and its Mission
The Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar was created by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 1978 to govern the conduct of lawyers as officers of the Court. The Board is an independent agency under the jurisdiction of the Court.
The mission of the Board of Overseers of the Bar is to encourage and promote competent and ethical practice by members of the Maine Bar, and to make these standards known to members of the public, so that they have confidence in the legal profession in Maine. The Board accomplishes its mission on several fronts including attorney registration, continuing legal education requirements, ethical guidance, and attorney regulation. [Read more]
Board Submits Proposed Revised Maine Bar Rules to Court
The Board of Overseers of the Bar established the Committee to Review Maine's Disciplinary Enforcement Rules in October 2011. The Committee, comprised of Board members and staff, attorney and public members of the Grievance Commission, disciplinary defense counsel and respondent attorneys, held 18 meetings between October 2011 and June 2014 to compare the Maine Bar Rules and the ABA Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement, and to compare and make recommendations about different approaches. Generally, the Model Rules are a “one size fits all” approach, whereas the Maine Rules were designed to work in a state with a smaller bar. The Committee worked diligently to meld the best practices from both the ABA Model Rules and from the way things have been successfully undertaken here in Maine. It has vetted the proposed rules through two public hearings and has received and responded to helpful feedback from members of the bar. The Committee concluded its work this past June with the submission of a comprehensive rewrite of the Maine Bar Rules for the Court's consideration. Click here to download the proposed Maine Bar Rules.
Task Force to Study Bar Demographics Issues Report
In June 2014, the Board of Overseers of the Bar Task Force to Study Maine's Bar Demographics issued its Report and Recommendations to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. In August of 2013, Task Force members were asked to examine the challenges facing the Maine bar with respect to the dearth of new lawyers working and residing in rural counties and the tsunami of retiring lawyers predicted within the next decade. Recognizing that the challenges are not unique to Maine, Task Force members were also asked to explore how other jurisdictions were responding to these concerns (click here to view articles and resources). The Task Force acknowledges that there is no “one-size fits all” solution to address the all of the issues and concerns addressed in its report. However, Task Force members identified several challenges and opportunities that will require action by legal organizations, the Court and the Legislature. Detailed information regarding the recommendations may be reviewed in Task Force's report.
Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct Seeks Input from Members of the Bar about Amending M.R.P.C. 1.17
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF SELLING YOUR LAW PRACTICE? The Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct recently created a sub-committee to study Rule 1.17 regarding the Sale of a Law Practice. The current Maine Rule 1.17 requires the selling attorney to cease practicing law anywhere in the State of Maine upon sale of his/her practice. The entire practice of either a sole practitioner or a firm must be sold, not a portion. Finally, Rule 1.17 requires notices be given to clients and the Board of Overseers of the Bar and includes a procedure to seek an order by a single Justice of the Law Court allowing the transfer of any representation if a Seller cannot give notice to a client. See M.R.C.P Rule 1.17.
Other states handle this Rule in other ways. See Massachusetts and North Carolina Professional Conduct Rules.
The sub-committee seeks to amend the Rule to both protect the legal consumer as well as avoid penalizing practitioners in Maine who are at or nearing retirement. The Report and Recommendations of the Board of Overseers of the Bar's Task Force to Study Bar Demographics, presents stark statistics about the challenges we face with an aging bar and not enough younger attorneys to offset retiring attorneys. The sub-committee seeks input from members of the Bar about amending Rule 1.17. You can email your comments or ideas to James Bartlett. We ask that the email comments be sent by December 5, 2014.
The sub-committee also hopes to make presentations at County Bar meetings between now and the end of the year to get further input. You can contact your county bar president to find out the date of your county bar meeting.
The sub-committee will present its findings and recommendations to the full Advisory Committee early in 2015 with a goal of presenting any proposed amendments to the Law Court by the May 1, 2015 deadline. We hope to hear from you.
Ethics Helpline for Registered Maine Attorneys
The Board of Overseers of the Bar provides assistance to Maine attorneys through its "Ethics Helpline" on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays - 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. To speak with one of the Board's staff attorneys, call the Board's office at 207-623-1122. [Read more]
The In Memoriam page is dedicated to honoring those members of the Maine Bar who have passed away in recent years. When available, links to full obituaries and news articles are also accessible. Click here to view the In Memoriam page.
Upcoming CLE Presentations by Bar Counsel
|3/17/2015||Employment Law||Maine State Bar Association||Freeport||Aria Eee|
|7/17/2015||Family Law Ethics||National Business Institute||Portland||Aria Eee|
|1/29/2015||9:00 AM||Merritt T. Heminway, Esq.||Cumberland County Superior Court - Courtroom #12|
|2/2/2015||10:00 AM||Brian D. Condon, Jr., Esq.||Cumberland County Superior Court - Courtroom #11|
|3/6/2015||9:00 AM||Jeffrey Pickering, Esq.||Penobscot Judicial Center Bangor - Courtroom #303|
Recent Decisions & Orders
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|1/15/2015||Paul E. Peck, Esq.||Single Justice||Order and Decision||Decision and Order Dated April 10, 2014 is vacated|
|1/6/2015||Philip S. Cohen, Esq.||Grievance Commission||Report Finding of Probable Cause for Filing of Information with the Court||Report Finding of Probable Cause for Filing of Information with the Court|
|12/16/2014||Jennifer Murphy||Single Justice||Reprimand||Failure to file "Notice Affidavit" after suspension; Failure to respond to Bar Counsel|
|12/15/2014||Pamela S. Holmes, Esq.||Grievance Commission||Dismissal with Warning||Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel|
|12/2/2014||Richard Salewski||Single Justice||Receiver Appointment||Receiver Appointment|
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