Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar

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6. Registration; List of Trust Accounts

a) Required Filings.

(1) Registration Statement. Every attorney admitted to practice in this State, except attorneys who have notified the Board that they are members of the armed forces of the United States who are on active duty outside of the state of Maine, shall upon admission and each year thereafter, file with the Board a registration statement setting forth the attorney's current residence and office addresses, Social Security or federal identification number, and such other identifying information as the State Tax Assessor may by rule require; the date of the attorney's admission to the Bar of the Court; the facts concerning the attorney's admission to practice in any other jurisdiction including each federal court and administrative body where admitted; and such other information as the Court or the Board may direct. The statement shall disclose whether the attorney is in good standing in each jurisdiction to which admitted and, if the attorney is not in good standing in any jurisdiction, it shall contain an explanation of the circumstances. In addition to such registration statement, every attorney shall file a supplemental statement of any change in the information previously submitted within 30 days of such change. Within 30 days of the receipt of a registration statement or supplement thereto filed by an attorney, the Board shall acknowledge receipt thereof in order to enable the attorney on request to demonstrate compliance with the requirement of this rule. Registration statements shall be filed and payment of requisite fees imposed by Rule 10 shall be made on or before August 31 by every attorney admitted to practice in this state except that if the following July is fewer than four months from the date of admission, the next filing shall be the second July following the date of admission. With the registration statement every attorney admitted to practice in this state shall submit a signed written report documenting compliance with the continuing legal education requirements of Rule 12(a) by providing the Annual Report statement required by Rule 12(b)(1). Registration statements, Annual Report statements, and payments postmarked after August 31 will be considered late causing a $25.00 surcharge per statement to be assessed upon and payable by the attorney.

Justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Justices of the Maine Superior Court, Judges of the Maine District Court, Maine Family Law Magistrates, Judges and Magistrates of the United States District Court of Maine, Maine Judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and Judges of the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Maine shall not be required to file a registration statement or pay an annual fee during their tenure in office, but they shall remain on the roll of attorneys in judicial status, and may retire in judicial status or resume active practice upon completion of their tenure in office by filing a registration statement and paying the annual fee required for the year in which active practice is resumed.

(2) IOLTA Accounts. Every lawyer admitted to practice in this State shall annually certify to the Board of Overseers of the Bar in connection with the annual renewal of the lawyer's registration, that:

(A) To the lawyer's knowledge after reasonable investigation:

(1) the lawyer or the lawyer's law firm maintains at least one IOLTA account, and

(2) the lawyer has taken reasonable steps to ensure that all client funds are held in client trust accounts meeting the requirements of these Rules, or

(B) That the lawyer is exempt from maintaining an IOLTA or other trust account because the lawyer:

(1) is not engaged in the private practice of law;

(2) does not have an office within the state of Maine;

(3) is (i) a judge or other judicial officer employed full time by the United States Government, the State of Maine or another state government, (ii) on active duty with the armed services, or (iii) employed full time as an attorney by a local, state, or federal government, and is not otherwise engaged in the private practice of law;

(4) is counsel for a corporation or non-profit organization or a teacher or professor employed by an educational institution, and is not otherwise engaged in the private practice of law;

(5) has been exempted by an order of the Court which is cited in the certification; or

(6) holds no client fund other than retainers or advances for costs and expenses.

(3) IOLTA Account Defined. An IOLTA account is a pooled trust account earning interest or dividends at an eligible institution in which a lawyer or law firm holds funds on behalf of client(s), which funds are small in amount or held for a short period of time such that they cannot earn interest or dividends for the client in excess of the costs incurred to secure such income and the account is:

(A) an interest-bearing checking or share draft account;

(B) a money market account with or tied to check-writing;

(C) an account whose funds are invested solely in repurchase agreements; or

(D) an account whose funds are invested solely in qualified money market funds.

A “qualified money market fund” is an open-end investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 that is regulated as a money market fund under Rule 270.2a-7 thereof (or any successor regulation) and that, at the time of the investment, has total assets of at least $250,000,000, substantially all of which are invested in U.S. Government Securities. A “repurchase agreement” is a daily overnight repurchase agreement which must be fully collateralized by U.S. Government Securities and may be established only with a bank or other depository institution that is deemed to be “well capitalized” or “adequately capitalized” under applicable regulations of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. U.S. Government Securities, for the purpose of this section, include securities of Government Sponsored Entities, including but not limited to Federal National Mortgage Association Securities, Government National Mortgage Association Securities, and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation Securities.

(4) Account Qualifications. An IOLTA account must meet all of the following conditions:

(A) the account is held in an eligible institution which is required to:

(i) remit the interest and dividends on this account, net of any allowable reasonable fees, at least quarterly to the Maine Bar Foundation;

(ii) transmit with each remittance a report on a form approved by the Maine Bar Foundation that shall identify each lawyer or law firm for whom the remittance is sent, the amount of remittance attributable to each IOLTA account, the rate and type of interest and dividends applied, the amount of interest and dividends, the amount and type of account-related charges deducted, if any, and the average account balance for the period in which the report is made; and

(iii) transmit to the depositing lawyer or law firm a report in accordance with normal procedures for reporting to its depositors.

(B) the account meets the requirements of paragraph 3 above as a client trust account.

(C)(1) An “Eligible Institution” for IOLTA accounts is a bank, trust company, savings bank, credit union, or savings and loan association authorized by federal or state law to do business in Maine, the deposits of which are insured by an agency of the federal government, and which has been designated by the Maine Bar Foundation as meeting the conditions of this subsection (C).

(2) To qualify as an eligible institution, the institution must pay on IOLTA accounts interest or dividends no less than the highest interest rate or dividend generally available from the institution to its non-IOLTA customers on accounts having similar minimum balances and other eligibility qualifications. Interest or dividends and fees shall be calculated in accordance with the eligible institution’s standard practice. In determining the highest interest rate or dividend generally available from the institution to its non-IOLTA customers, an institution may consider in addition to the balance in the IOLTA account, factors customarily considered by the institution when setting interest rates or dividends for its non-IOLTA customers, provided that such factors do not discriminate between IOLTA accounts and other accounts and that these factors do not include the fact that the account is an IOLTA account. The eligible institution shall calculate interest and dividends in accordance with its standard practice for non-IOLTA customers. The eligible institution may choose to pay the higher interest rate or dividend on an IOLTA account in lieu of establishing it as a higher rate product. Nothing contained in this Rule will be deemed to prohibit an institution from paying a higher interest rate or dividend on IOLTA accounts than required by this Rule or from electing to waive any fees and service charges on an IOLTA account. Lawyers may only maintain IOLTA accounts at eligible institutions which meet this Rule’s requirements, as determined from time to time by the Maine Bar Foundation.

(3) Eligible institutions may comply with the rate requirements of this Rule by electing to pay an amount on funds which would otherwise qualify for the options noted above, equal to 65% of the Federal Funds Target Rate in effect on July 1 of each year, which rate remains in effect for twelve months, and which amount is deemed to be already net of allowable reasonable fees. The Federal Funds Target Rate as of January 1, 2008, shall be in effect until July 1, 2008.

(4) "Allowable reasonable fees" for IOLTA accounts are per check charges, per deposit charges, sweep fees, a fee in lieu of a minimum balance, federal deposit or share insurance fees, and a reasonable IOLTA account administrative or maintenance fee. All other fees are the responsibility of, and may be charged to the lawyer maintaining the IOLTA account. Fees or charges in excess of the interest or dividends earned on the account for any month or quarter shall not be taken from interest or dividends earned on other IOLTA accounts or from the principal of the amount.

(5) Maine Bar Foundation Actions.

(A) The Maine Bar Foundation shall publish annually a list of eligible institutions that may hold IOLTA accounts.

(B) By March 1 of each year, beginning in 2009, the Maine Bar Foundation shall complete a financial report of the IOLTA funds received and distributed by it for the previous calendar year. The financial report shall be conducted according to generally accepted accounting principles and shall include indication of the purposes for which IOLTA funds have been expended in the previous year. Copies of the financial report shall be provided to the Court.

(6) Receipt of Voluntary Contributions. As part of its notification to attorneys to file annual registration statements, the Board may invite attorneys to make a voluntary contribution to the Campaign for Justice to assist in the funding of legal services for low income individuals. The Board may also provide a means for making the voluntary contribution at the same time that the annual fee is paid and is authorized to utilize its administrative staff and facilities to receive these voluntary contributions and forward them to the Campaign for Justice. (back to top)

(b) Failure to File Registration Statement, to File State Tax Returns, to Comply With a Support Order, to File an Unemployment Tax Return, to Pay an Unemployment Tax Assessment or to Comply With an Award of the Fee Arbitration Commission.

(1) Failure to File Registration Statement. Any attorney who fails to file the registration statement or any supplement thereto in accordance with the requirements of (a) above by August 31 is automatically suspended. Notice of the suspension shall be given by the Board by registered or certified mail, and return receipt requested, addressed to the office or home address last known to the Board. Such suspension for failure to file the statement or supplement thereto shall not be effective until thirty (30) days after the date of mailing the notice thereof. The failure to file shall not be considered a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility per se, and the suspension for failure to file shall not constitute the imposition of discipline. An attorney who, after the date of the mailing of such notice of suspension but before the effective date of such suspension, files the statement or any supplement thereto as required by subdivision (a) of this rule shall be deemed to be in compliance with this rule and shall not be suspended for failure to file such statement or supplement or certificate; otherwise the attorney shall be subject to Maine Bar Rules 7.3(i)(2) and (j). An attorney aggrieved as a result of a suspension under this paragraph may apply to the Board Chair for summary relief for good cause shown.

(2) 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 finalized determination to prevent renewal or reissuance of a "license or certificate of authority" for an attorney to practice law, the Board shall refuse to process any registration statement filed by such attorney after such notification from the State Tax Assessor and such attorney is automatically suspended. The failure to file such a state tax return or to pay any tax liability due as referred to in such notification from the State Tax Assessor shall not be considered a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility per se and the suspension due to the reported failure to file such return or to pay any overdue tax liability shall not constitute the imposition of discipline. Notice of the receipt of such notification from the State Tax Assessor of such finalized determination and of the suspension shall be given by the Board to the attorney by registered or certified mail, and return receipt requested, addressed to the office or home address last known to the Board of Overseers of the Bar. Such suspension for reported failure to file the state tax return or to pay any overdue tax liability shall not be effective until thirty (30) days after the date of mailing the notice thereof. An attorney who, after the date of the mailing of such notice of notification and suspension but before the effective date of such suspension, files with the Board a certificate issued by the State Tax Assessor that the attorney is currently in good standing with respect to any and all returns and tax liability due shall be deemed to be in compliance with this rule and shall not be suspended for failure to file such state tax returns or to pay any overdue tax liability; otherwise the attorney shall be subject to Maine Bar Rules 7.3(i)(2) and (j). An attorney aggrieved as a result of a suspension under this paragraph may apply to the Board Chair for summary relief for good cause shown.

(3) Failure to File List of Trust Accounts. Any attorney practicing alone who fails to file a list of trust accounts in accordance with paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of this rule, or any attorney who is a member of a law firm that fails to file such a list, is automatically suspended in the manner and on the terms and conditions provided in paragraph (1) of this subdivision for failure to file a registration statement.

(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 Human Services certifies in writing to the Board that, in compliance with the statutory procedure: A) the Department has determined that an attorney is in noncompliance with a support order: and B) the attorney has failed to appeal the Department's decision; or C) a final judgment has been entered against the attorney on the attorney's petition for judicial review, the Board shall refuse to process any registration statement filed by such an attorney after such notification from the Department, and such attorney is automatically suspended. Certification by the Department of an attorney's failure to comply with a support order shall not constitute violation of the Code of Professional Conduct per se, although the Board may institute separate proceedings to determine whether discipline is appropriate. Suspension after certification of noncompliance by the Department shall not constitute the imposition of discipline. Notice of the receipt of such certification from the Department and of the suspension shall be given by the Board to the attorney by registered or certified mail, and return receipt requested, addressed to the office or home address last known to the Board of Overseers of the Bar. Such suspension for reported failure to comply with a support order shall not be effective until thirty (30) days after the date of mailing the notice thereof. An attorney who, after the date of mailing of such notice of certification and suspension but before the effective date of such suspension, files with the Board written confirmation by the Department of compliance with the support order shall not be suspended for failure to comply; otherwise the attorney shall be subject to Maine Bar Rules 7.3(i)(2) & (j). An attorney aggrieved as a result of a suspension under this paragraph may apply to the Board Chair for summary relief for good cause shown.

(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: (1) the Commission has determined in compliance with the statutory procedure that an attorney is in noncompliance with the unemployment compensation statute, and (2) the attorney has either failed to pursue an appeal from the Commission's decision or a judgment has been entered against the attorney on the attorney's petition for judicial review; the Board shall refuse to process any registration statement filed by such an attorney after such notification from the Commission and such attorney is automatically suspended. Certification by the Commission of an attorney's failure to comply with the unemployment compensation statute shall not constitute violation of the Code of Professional Conduct per se, although the Board may institute separate proceedings to determine whether discipline is appropriate. Suspension after certification of noncompliance by the Commission shall not constitute the imposition of discipline. Notice of the receipt of such certification from the Commission and of the suspension shall be given by the Board to the attorney by registered or certified mail, and return receipt requested, addressed to the office or home address last known to the Board of Overseers of the Bar. Such suspension for reported failure to comply with the unemployment compensation statute shall not be effective until thirty (30) days after the date of mailing the notice thereof. An attorney who, after the date of mailing of such notice of certification and suspension but before the effective date of such suspension, files with the Board written confirmation by the Commission of compliance with the statute shall not be suspended for failure to comply; otherwise the attorney shall be subject to Maine Bar Rules 7.3(i)(2) & (j). An attorney aggrieved as a result of a suspension under this paragraph may apply to the Board Chair for summary relief for good cause shown.

(6) Failure to Comply With an Award of the Fee Arbitration Commission. When a matter involving an award of a panel of the Fee Arbitration Commission is referred to Bar Counsel under Rule 9(i) because of the attorney's failure to make an awarded refund to the petitioner within 30 days of receipt of the arbitration award, the Board, upon request of Bar Counsel and after affording the attorney an opportunity to respond in writing, may refer the matter to the Court for appropriate disciplinary action. (back to top)

(c) Notification of Discontinuance of the Practice of Law, Request for Reinstatement, and Arrearage Registration Payment.

(1) Notification of Discontinuance of the Practice of Law. Any Maine attorney not the subject of disciplinary investigation under Rule 7.1(d) or of disciplinary proceedings as authorized or pending under Rule 7.1(e) may advise the Board in writing of a desire to completely discontinue the practice of law in Maine and be placed on inactive status. Upon the filing of such notice, the attorney shall no longer be eligible to practice law in Maine or allowed in any manner to indicate or advertise an authority to so practice in Maine, but shall be required to file annual registration statements with the Board for three (3) years thereafter in order that the attorney can be located by the Board of Bar Counsel. During that three (3) year period the attorney shall remit to the Board an annual registration fee in an amount equal to one-half the fee required of a similarly situated active attorney under Rule 10. The attorney shall also comply with the provisions of Rule 7.3(i)(2).

(2) Withdrawal from Maine practice. Any Maine attorney currently registered in good standing under Rule 6(a) and not the subject of any investigation under Rule 7.1(c) or (d) or of any disciplinary proceedings under Rule 7.1(e), may provide written notice to the Board of withdrawal from Maine practice. Such notice shall include a current mailing address and telephone number of the attorney, and the effective date of that withdrawal. The withdrawing attorney shall also comply with the provisions of Rule 7.3(i)(2), and shall not subsequently return to the practice of law in Maine without first complying with the requirements of subsection (c)(3) of this Rule and applicable portions of Maine Bar Admission Rule 10.

(3) Request for Reinstatement. Prior to resuming active practice in Maine, an inactive attorney or an attorney who has withdrawn from practice in Maine must petition the Board Chair and provide persuasive evidence of compliance with the factors as enumerated under Rule 7.3(j)(5)(A), (B), (D), (E) & (F).

(4) Arrearage Registration Payment. In addition to all other requirements, an inactive attorney or an attorney who has withdrawn from practice now seeking reinstatement shall remit to the Board a $ 125.00 reinstatement fee and an arrearage registration payment equal to the total fee that the attorney would have been obligated to pay the Board under Rule 10 had the attorney remained actively registered to practice in Maine during that period of inactive or withdrawn status, minus a credit for the total payment made by the attorney for the first three years of the inactive period but not more than $1,000.00. (back to top)

(d) Emeritus Attorney Status.

(1) Purpose. To provide a licensing status to allow attorneys retired from the active practice of law to provide pro bono publico services to the indigent through recognized legal services organizations.

(2) Application. Any attorney who has discontinued the practice of law and who has given the notice required by Maine Bar Rule 6(c)(1) 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 below. The emeritus status statement shall be signed by an authorized representative of the approved legal services organization under whose auspices the attorney will provide such legal services. Unless the Board of Overseers of the Bar objects within 30 days, the attorney may begin providing pro bono services after filing such a statement. An attorney who has assumed emeritus attorney status shall not be relieved of his or her obligation under Maine Bar Rule 6(c)(1) to file annual registration statements and remit annual registration fees pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 6(c)(1).

(3) Definition of Approved Legal Services Organization. For purposes of this Rule, an approved legal services organization shall include a pro bono publico legal services program sponsored by a court-annexed program, the Maine State Bar Association, the University of Maine School of Law, or a not-for-profit organization that provides legal services to persons of limited means and that receives funding from the federal Legal Services Corporation, the Maine Bar Foundation, or the Maine Civil Legal Services Fund, and in addition, shall include any not-for-profit legal services organization designated as an approved legal services organization after petition to the Supreme Judicial Court. (back to top)

(e) Register of Attorneys. Based upon the information made available to the Board by the filing of the statements provided for under this rule, or otherwise, and upon such other investigatory procedures as may be established by the Board, consistent with these rules, the Board shall compile and keep current a register for the Court of all persons admitted as members of the Bar of this state, and records of the death or other termination or suspension of the right of any attorney to practice law in this state. The Board shall assign a Bar Number to every admitted attorney. When attorneys change their business or home contact information, the updated information must be supplied by the attorney within 30 days to the Board and to the Office of Information Technology of the Administrative Office of the Courts. An attorney’s social security number shall not be made available by the Board to the public. For the protection of the public, the Board's records must contain an address, which may be a post office box address, for every attorney, which address shall be made available to the public. The Board will only disclose an attorney's home address if no current office address or post office box address is provided. All other information contained in such register and records shall be available to the public subject to Board Regulations and policies. (back to top)

(f) Removal From Register. Upon the filing of a notice that an attorney wishes to assume inactive status, the attorney shall be removed from the roll of those classified as active until and unless the attorney requests reinstatement to the active roll and pays for the year of reinstatement the fee imposed by Rule 10. (back to top)

(g) Forms. The Board shall prepare and make available through its offices approved registration statement forms and change of address forms which shall be used by attorneys in complying with this rule.