Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program: FAQs

  1. What is the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program?

    Why is the Judiciary doing this?
    The purpose of the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program (KCRP) is twofold. First, to establish an annual process for recognizing and honoring the pro bono work of Maine's lawyers. Second, to encourage more lawyers to provide such services for Maine's low-income residents to help to meet their growing unmet legal needs.

    Maine lawyers are among the most generous in the nation in donating their time to pro bono representation for people who cannot afford an attorney and by donating money to support legal aid. The Court believes there should be greater public awareness of the vital role the bar plays in supporting equal access to civil justice. In addition, with the current economic downturn, there has been an even greater unmet need for legal services for Maine's low-income residents. At the same time, IOLTA funding, which provides significant support for legal aid, has decreased due to a drop in attorney escrow accounts, along with other public and private funding sources for legal aid.

    The Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program is intended both to honor Maine's lawyers who provide pro bono representation, and to help meet the unmet need for civil legal representation by increasing the number of attorneys who voluntarily provide pro bono representation.

    How did the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program come about?

    For some time now, the Justice Action Group has been studying pro bono recognition programs around the country with an eye toward initiating a program in Maine to bring greater attention to the extraordinary efforts of Maine's lawyers in providing pro bono publico. JAG's Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, chaired by Gigi Sanchez, recommended that JAG pursue the creation of a recognition program in Maine.

    Why is the program called the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program?

    Katahdin, Maine's highest peak, means "the greatest mountain" to Maine's Wabanaki people. It is revered as a place of great power throughout Indian Country. The power of Katahdin parallels the power of bringing justice to those who, but for the generosity of Maine's pro bono attorneys, would otherwise not have meaningful access to justice. As one of Maine's most notable and majestic attractions, it has become a symbol of Maine's greatness, and so it is befitting that this Program be identified with this iconic natural wonder.

    Is participation in the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program mandatory?

    No, participation in the program is purely voluntary.

    What happens if I choose not to participate in the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program?

    Nothing.

  2. What Type of Pro Bono Work Does the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program Honor?

    What counts as pro bono legal services?
    The program tracks Maine Rule of Professional Responsibility 6.1(1) and (2). Qualifying legal services are those provided without fee or expectation of fee to (1) persons of limited means; or (2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means.

    What other forms of legal services would qualify for this recognition?

    Time spent on the following activities would qualify for recognition if it is provided without fee or without expectation of fee:
    • Limited or full representation of a person of limited means who seeks legal services on their own behalf from your office;
    • Limited or full representation of a person of limited means who is referred by a legal aid provider;
    • Limited or full representation of a person of limited means who is referred by a charitable, religious, civic, community, government or educational organization;
    • Limited or full representation of a person of limited means at the request of a Court or government official;
    • Service as a guardian ad litem appointed by the court in a legal proceeding for a family of limited means;
    • The provision of law-related training of persons of limited means at the request of the Court or a charitable, religious, civic, community, government or educational organization;
    • The provision of free training or mentoring to those who represent persons of limited means;
    • The provision of legal information and/or limited representation services to persons of limited means through a courthouse or administrative forms clinic organized by the Court or a charitable, religious, civic, community, government or educational organization;
    • The provision of legal information and/or limited representation services to persons of limited means over the telephone or via a computerized assistance program at the request of the Court or a charitable, religious, civic, community, government or educational organization;
    • The creation of law-related self-help tools or legal information resources for the primary benefit of persons of limited means at the request of the Court or a charitable, religious, civic, community, government or educational organization;
    • The provision of legislative lobbying or administrative rulemaking that primarily benefits persons of limited means and which is provided through a charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental or educational association

    To be creditable, must the pro bono hours be performed within Maine for and on behalf of Maine clients?
    No. Pro bono hours performed out-of-state by a Maine attorney will count towards the 50 hours need to participate in the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program.

    Does work as a Guardian Ad Litem count as pro bono if it is uncompensated due to being over the cap set by the Judicial Branch?
    Yes.

    Do hours spent by an attorney representing a Maine CASA Volunteer on a pro bono basis qualify for the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program?
    Yes.

    I serve on the Board of Directors for Pine Tree Legal Assistance (or one of the other legal services providers in Maine). Do my hours devoted toward Board activities count?
    Comment [2] to Rule 6.1 defines "legal services" as "a full range of activities, including individual and class representation, the provision of legal advice, legislative lobbying, administrative rule making and the provision of free training or mentoring to those who represent persons of limited means." Accordingly, to the extent that your board activities fall within this definition, such as by providing training or creating training materials for direct representation of Maine's poor, the full number of hours of service may be counted. However, to the extent that your board service consists of traditional board service activities, such activities are not included in this recognition program.

    What about my work for non-legal charitable, civic, educational or religious groups? Does that count?

    Pro bono legal services for "charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means" are eligible for recognition. However, pro bono legal services that are provided in response to legal needs of the organization itself are not eligible for this recognition.

    Do the hours I devote to writing law review articles or teaching CLE courses count?

    No.

    Do my limited representation hours through CHAPs count as a service to low income persons directly or to the sponsoring organization?
    Yes, such pro bono legal services count toward the fifty (50) qualifying hours under the Program.

    Must the qualifying services come through a legal services provider?
    No. Eligible services can also be provided to clients who seek representation directly from the local attorney, or who are accepted on referral from the Court, an administrative agency, or another organization.

    What if a client comes to me directly? How am I supposed to determine whether someone is low income?
    Generally, Maine's legal services providers define Maine's vulnerable or low-income population to be those persons living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. The dollar amounts associated with this typically change each year, but are usually available online at: http://www.familiesusa.org/resources/tools-for-advocates/guides/federal-poverty-guidelines.html. However, lawyers are not required to document the financial status of clients who come to them directly, so long as the lawyer believes the client to be a person of limited means.

    What if I start out representing a client at an hourly rate and end up handling the matter pro bono?
    Does that count?
    The lawyer may include hours spent without expectation of a fee in matters where the client lost the ability to pay as the matter proceeded. Time spent on work for which the fees could not be collected “after the fact” will not be counted as pro bono unless remaining fees are formally waived by the attorney.

    I provide pro bono legal services to persons of limited means as part of my regular job. May I receive recognition for this work through the Katahdin Counsel Program?

    At the present time, recognition is limited to attorneys who provide this service on a voluntary basis and not as part of their employment in the nonprofit or public sector.

  3. Registering as a Katahdin Counsel

    How do I become a Katahdin Counsel?

    To participate, lawyers must complete the service as specified above and complete and return the Court Verification Form created for the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program .

    Is this on a calendar or fiscal year?

    The reporting year runs from July 1 through June 30 of each year.

    How and to whom do I report my hours?

    Hours will be reported by filling in a form provided electronically on the Maine Judicial website and returning by email to or by regular mail to the Access to Justice Coordinator at the Administrative Office of the Courts, PO Box 4820, Portland, Maine 04112. Reporting will be in tandem with the annual registration and reporting of CLE through the Board of Overseers of the Bar with a July 1- June 30 reporting year. The form is due September 15 of each year. On the form, you will certify that you have completed the minimum fifty (50) qualifying hours.

    Do I need to submit proof of the representation, i.e. engagement letter and/or billing statements?

    No, this program is on the honor system.

    Can we average the hours across multiple attorneys within our firm?
    No. The recognition will be available to lawyers as individuals, not to law firms.

    I engaged in 50 or more hours of pro bono services last year. Can I start using the Katahdin Counsel designation now?
    No, the program began on July 1, 2011, and only those pro bono hours provided after that date will qualify.

    By participating, am I required to notify the Court if I decide to discontinue participating in the following year?
    No, participation is accomplished by retroactive reporting of the pro bono service hours completed in the preceding reporting year.

    Do I need to be an active member of the Maine Bar to participate?
    Yes, you must be an active member of the Maine Bar or registered for Emeritus Attorney Status pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 6 (d).

  4. May a law student participate in the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program?
    No. However, law students may participate in the parallel Katahdin Law Student Recognition Program by providing the qualifying pro bono service and completing the Katahdin Law Student Verification Form.

    Does the Katahdin Law Student Recognition Program have any additional requirements?

    Yes.
    • All law student pro bono service must be completed in Maine under the supervision of a Maine attorney.
    • Law students must provide the name and address of the attorney and/or organization with whom they completed any pro bono service.
    • Law students must get the signature of the attorney who supervised their pro bono service on the student verification form.
    • Law students may not include pro bono hours required for an intern or externship, or conducted for law school credit.

    Do hours spent by a law student on administrative tasks (as opposed to direct legal work) for CLAC or another legal aid provider count toward the 50 hour pro bono requirement?
    Students will get credit for any administrative work done for a legal aid provider that is directly connected with (a) processing a case; (b) supporting relevant training activities; and/or (c) developing legal education materials for persons of limited means. Administrative work that benefits the organization more generally will not be eligible for recognition.

    Do hours spent by a law student in programmatic training (i.e. CASA or VLP, etc.) count toward the 50 hours pro bono requirement?

    No.

    Does time spent by a law student working with the Katahdin Counsel Recognition Program Commission and/or the Justice Action Group count toward the 50 hour pro bono requirement?
    No.

  5. Recognition for Participating Attorneys

    How will participating lawyers be recognized for their service?
    Attorneys who qualify for the roster will be recognized each year in conjunction with the National Pro Bono Recognition Week held annually at the end of October. The Supreme Judicial Court will publish and distribute the names of all attorneys who have earned the distinction of Katahdin Counsel based on their reported pro bono service during the preceding year. Additional recognition will be given to the ten lawyers who reported the greatest number of hours of qualifying pro bono legal representation during the reported period.

    Members who report such voluntary service will be given the honorific title "Katahdin Counsel" with an accompanying KCRP logo, which can be used as a credential on printed and digital materials for the July 1- June 30 year following completion of qualifying service. Honorees also will receive a certificate suitable for framing and a KCRP lapel pin.

    Efforts will also be made to recognize participants at events hosted throughout the state, including state and local bar meetings, events scheduled by the Maine Judicial Branch and through press releases and other media communications.

    Under what circumstances may I use the Katahdin Counsel designation and logo?

    The Katahdin Counsel designation is earned and awarded on an annual basis. A qualifying attorney will be considered a "Katahdin Counsel" for the twelve months following the receipt of the designation (in October of each year). The Katahdin Counsel logo is trademark protected and may only be used by qualifying attorneys in the twelve months following their receipt of the award. The logo is available in pdf or jpeg format upon request and may be used on office stationery, as an envelope insert, on business cards or on an attorney's website. Additional uses of the logo by a qualifying attorney will be subject to approval by the Access to Justice Coordinator, who can be contacted via email or (207)822-0703. The logo will also appear on the certificate and pin that qualifying attorneys receive. Those items may be displayed without any time limitation.

    Are lawyers who participate as Katahdin Counsel required to attend the Bar events, Court hearings, or any other organized events at which lawyers participating in the program are honored?

    No, although participation is encouraged.

  6. Additional Information

    Whom should I contact if I have questions?
    If you have additional questions or need more information email the Access to Justice Coordinator with any questions or concerns or call (207)822-0703.