Bar Counsel Notes: Reporting Professional Misconduct

A lawyer wishes to self-report a recent OUI conviction. What must he/she do?

Under M. Bar R. 7.3(d)(6) within thirty (30) days of a lawyer's conviction for any crime, the lawyer must so notify Bar Counsel in writing and also then file a certificate from the court clerk confirming that conviction. Typically, Bar Counsel does not open a grievance file regarding minor convictions, but each incident is independently evaluated, based upon all of the circumstances surrounding the criminal conduct. A failure to so report, however, may itself result in a grievance being opened and docketed by Bar Counsel under M. Bar R. 7.1(b) for conduct in violation of M. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4(a).

*Disclaimer: The Informal Ethics Advisory Notes from Bar Counsel are intended as outreach by the office of Bar Counsel for the use and benefit of the Maine bar. These scenarios are drawn from actual telephone calls received by the attorneys in the office of Bar Counsel in the course of providing informal advice on the Code of Professional Responsibility, known as Bar Counsel's "Ethics Hotline." The particular advice in each case is limited with reference to the particular factual situation related by the inquiring attorney who must be inquiring about his or her own conduct or the conduct of a member of his or her firm. We do not provide any advice to one attorney about the conduct of another attorney unless they are members of the same law firm. In the telephone opinions, we usually explore and discuss additional factual variables. However, I have attempted to pare down these factual scenarios to make the email newsletter more readable and useful in a general sense. Obviously, that creates the risk that slight variations on the facts, to a learned reader, may give rise to a different analysis and conclusion.