Bar Counsel Notes: Grievance and Discipline Process

Attorney had a grievance complaint filed and dismissed against him in 2008. His new malpractice carrier is asking for the history of any disciplinary complaints against him. Attorney inquires whether the Board of Overseers of the Bar still has any such record of that 2008 "complaint?"

The Maine Bar Rules describe and use the term "disciplinary complaint" in a much different manner than "grievance complaints." While Attorney apparently had a grievance filed against him in 2008, the Board has no record of any disciplinary complaint/pleading ever being filed against Attorney under M. Bar R. 7.1(e) (Grievance Commission) or 7.2(b) (Court). Therefore, Attorney should answer this question in the negative, with some description or explanation of that distinction of terminology. See also M. Bar. R. 5(d) (expungement of records) and 7.3(k) (confidentiality).

*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.