Board of Overseers of the Bar
The Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar was created by the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine in 1978 to govern the conduct of lawyers as officers of the Court. The Board consists of six lawyers and three public members. The lawyers are appointed by the Court, and the public members are appointed by the Court on recommendations by the Governor.
The Board regulates the conduct of lawyers by enforcing the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct (Rules) adopted by the Court. The purpose of the Rules is to provide appropriate standards for attorneys with respect to their practice of the profession of law, including, but not limited to their relationship with their clients, the general public, other members of the legal profession, the courts and other agencies of this State.
Under the Rules, the Board appoints Bar Counsel who investigates alleged misconduct by lawyers and, when authorized to do so by a reviewing panel of the Grievance Commission, litigates grievance complaints at public disciplinary proceedings. The Board also maintains a register of all lawyers who are members of the Bar of the State of Maine as well as records of the termination or suspension of the right of any lawyer to practice law in Maine.
The Board appoints members to three commissions established by the Rules: the Grievance Commission, the Fee Arbitration Commission, and the Professional Ethics Commission.
Quick Facts about the Board of Overseers of the Bar
- The Board was created by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in November 1978.
- The Board is an independent agency under the jurisdiction of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
- The Board is comprised of nine members from across the state of Maine. The Board has six attorney members appointed by the Court and three lay members appointed by the Court on recommendation of the Governor.
- The purpose of the disciplinary system is to assist the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in performing its constitutional duty to regulate attorney conduct.
- With the exception of federal government and military attorneys, in house counsel and as may be allowed in certain specific instances by Maine Professional Conduct Rule 5.5, all attorneys who practice law in Maine must be registered with and licensed by the Board.
- The Board is funded by the annual registration fees each attorney is required to pay when licensed to practice in Maine. The Board receives no tax funds.
- The Board of Overseers of the Bar is responsible for receiving and investigating grievance complaints against attorneys licensed in Maine.
- Disputes involving attorney fees may be resolved by requesting arbitration through the Board of Overseers of the Bar's Fee Arbitration Commission.