BOARD OF BAR OVERSEERS
of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
OFFICE OF BAR COUNSEL
ASSISTANT BAR COUNSEL
The Board of Bar Overseers of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (“BBO”), the independent adjudicative and administrative body charged with overseeing attorney registration and disciplinary proceedings in the Commonwealth seeks two uniquely talented attorneys to join the Office of Bar Counsel (“OBC”) as Assistant Bar Counsel.
The Bar Counsel investigates and evaluates complaints of unethical conduct against attorneys with limited exceptions per Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01 Section 7, prosecutes attorney misconduct cases before the BBO and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (“the Court”), and provides education and information to the bar and the public concerning the bar disciplinary process and the ethical practice of law. The Bar Counsel carries out his duties with the able assistance of a team of Assistant Bar Counsel which he appoints with the consent of the BBO.
The Office of Bar Counsel is located at, 99 High Street, Boston, Massachusetts. Bar Counsel Rodney Dowell’s team of attorneys, investigators, secretaries, and other support staff direct the investigation of matters involving alleged misconduct by lawyers and the prosecution of attorney disciplinary proceedings. Bar Counsel Dowell and his staff are committed to protect the public from unethical conduct by attorneys and to preserve and enhance the integrity and high standards of the bar.
All candidates will possess a Juris Doctorate, admission to practice and good standing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and have a minimum of five years legal practice, including trial and appellate experience. Candidates admitted to practice and in good standing in another U.S. jurisdiction, who are pending admission to the Commonwealth may be considered.
Confidential inquiries and applications, including a resume, letter of interest, and legal writing sample, should be submitted via email to Angela Puccini, Human Resource Manager at email@example.com. Please reference in the subject line “Assistant Bar Counsel Search”. Additional information about the Board of Bar Overseers, the Office of Bar Counsel, and the position is available at our website: https://www.massbbo.org/.
The Board of Bar Overseers
The BBO, established by the Court in 1974, serves as the independent body responsible for the registration and discipline of attorneys in Massachusetts. The BBO adjudicates complaints against the Commonwealth’s attorneys and acts or recommends disciplinary action to be taken by the Court.
The Bar Counsel and Assistant Bar Counsel
The role of Bar Counsel (BC) was established by the Court through the adoption of S.J.C. Rule 4:01. Appointed as Bar Counsel in December 2019 by the BBO with the approval of the Court, Rodney Dowell oversees investigation of matters involving alleged misconduct by lawyers; recommends to the BBO the institution of formal disciplinary proceedings; prosecutes disciplinary proceedings before hearing committees, special hearing officers, the BBO, and the Court; appears with full rights to participate as a party at reinstatement hearings; and maintains permanent records of matters presented to the BC and the disposition thereof. With the concurrence of the BBO, Attorney Dowell hires Assistant Bar Counsel to whom he delegates duties or functions under his general supervision.
As an Assistant Bar Counsel, you will be provided the opportunity to work on matters which concern many different areas of legal practice and, with experience, will gain significant autonomy over the cases assigned to you. You will work in a collaborative team environment of fellow Assistant Bar Counsel, investigators, legal secretaries, and support staff who are dedicated to protecting the public from lawyer misconduct so as to preserve and enhance the integrity of the Bar and maintain the high ethical standards for practicing law in the Commonwealth.
The Assistant Bar Counsel’s primary responsibilities include:
Evaluating, investigating, and resolving where appropriate, complaints of lawyer misconduct.
➢ Identifying violations of the rules of professional conduct and drafting and filing formal charging documents.
➢ Conducting discovery; attending pre-hearing conferences; and submitting and responding to pre-hearing, hearing, and post-hearing motions, including motions in limine.
➢ Preparing for full evidentiary hearings by developing hearing strategy, planning witness testimony, identifying documentary evidence, and formulating legal arguments.
➢ Prosecuting allegations of professional misconduct before hearing committees, the BBO, and the Court.
➢ Composing proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and supporting legal memoranda for post-hearing submission to hearing committees.
➢ Writing appellate briefs and presenting oral argument in appeals of hearing committee reports to the BBO and appeals of board decisions to the single justice, and full bench of the Court.
➢ Drafting, filing and arguing before the single justice of the Court, motions for temporary suspension of lawyers, motions for contempt and other related motions.
➢ Providing timely and thoughtful advice and informal ethical opinions to members of the Massachusetts Bar when called upon.
➢ Presenting at bar association meetings, continuing legal education seminars and other events concerning professional responsibilities of attorneys.
➢ Researching and writing articles on pertinent ethical issues for publication.
➢ Representing BC in attorney reinstatement proceedings.
Qualifications and Experience
All candidates will possess a Juris Doctorate; be admitted to practice and in good standing in the Commonwealth and have a minimum of five years legal practice experience, including trial and appellate experience. Candidates with additional relevant legal experience will be considered. Candidates admitted to practice and in good standing in another U.S. jurisdiction, who are pending admission to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, may be considered.
In addition to a commitment to the highest ethical and professional standards and to improving the quality of the bar, the Assistant Bar Counsel will possess some knowledge of a variety of areas of legal practice; will have practical litigation experience; will be an articulate, persuasive and talented legal writer, oral advocate, and communicator; will be committed to the use of technology in her/his practice; and will possess outstanding interpersonal skills, sound judgement, and maturity. Knowledge of bar discipline and the rules of professional conduct is preferred.
Major Programs and Responsibilities of the BBO
The BBO has primary responsibility to administer the discipline of lawyers in Massachusetts. Its work is governed by Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01 et. seq. and the Rules of the Board of Bar Overseers. The Board acts as the tribunal to consider disciplinary charges brought by the OBC. When an attorney is found to have engaged in misconduct, the BBO either imposes discipline or recommends to the Court that more serious discipline be imposed.
The BBO presently consists of twelve members, eight of whom are Massachusetts lawyers. The remaining four members are non-lawyer public members. All members are appointed by the Court and serve voluntarily, without compensation, for four-year terms.
Although the BBO is subject to the supervision of the Court, no taxpayer funds are spent to support the work of the Board. The BBO’s expenses are funded solely from annual registration fees paid by attorneys. The BBO collects annual attorney registration fees and uses them to fund its operations. Registration fees also support related entities including the Clients’ Security Board (“CSB”) and lawyer assistance programs, which are not part of the BBO.
Adjudicatory Functions of the BBO
The BBO’s implementation of the bar disciplinary process includes evidentiary hearings before volunteer hearing officers as well as appellate review of those decisions by the 12-member Board at monthly meetings. The BBO appoints volunteer members as hearing officers; members of the Board adjudicate petitions for reinstatement. The BBO has published a treatise to provide members of the bar and the public with a guide to the legal work of the board that is available at https://www.massbbo.org/BBOTreatise
Administrative Functions of the BBO
The operational and administrative services of the BBO are directed by the Executive Director (“ED”), including human resources, budgeting, procurement, information technology, and facilities. The ED supervises the administrative functions supporting the disciplinary process as well as the attorney registration process. These services and the personnel who perform them support all BBO functions, including the Office of General Counsel (“OGC”), OBC, Registration, and the CSB. The ED drives strategic planning and implementation across the BBO, the OGC, and the OBC, but, has no authority over BBO and OBC disciplinary actions, decisions or related legal judgments. The BBO has several standing committees that address specific administrative functions including Audit & Budget, Personnel, Rules, and Technology.
Office of the General Counsel
The OGC’s four attorneys serve as legal counsel to the BBO. In addition to providing support for the activities of the BBO during their monthly meetings, the OGC provides legal counsel for all BBO adjudicatory activities, including case review; issuance of subpoenas and orders; and drafting of decisions. Additionally, the OGC provides legal counsel to board and hearing panel members who conduct disciplinary hearings and supports the ED’s administrative functions.
In addition, the OGC administers the Commissioner’s Program. The program, established in 2018, is charged with overseeing and executing commissioner appointments under S.J.C. Rule 4:01, Sec. 14 and Sec. 17. The Commissioner’s Program is dedicated to establishing a uniform approach to the administration of the commissioner process and is overseen by the General Counsel with the support of a Legal Program Manager.
Office of Bar Counsel
The OBC is the division of the BBO responsible for the investigation of matters involving alleged misconduct by lawyers, and the prosecution of attorney disciplinary proceedings. The BBO provides administrative support to the OBC. In FY 2018, OBC opened 689 investigations of complaints against attorneys. The 689 files docketed in FY 2018 involved 587 attorneys: 517 of the respondent lawyers had one complaint filed against them, 55 had two complaints, and 15 had three or more complaints filed in the fiscal year. Also, in FY 2017 OBC initiated investigation on 74 lawyers, not including dishonored check matters; these files were opened based on complaints by the public or attorneys, as well as news reports, information received from judges, district attorneys’ offices, or other public agencies.
The OBC also includes the Attorney and Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) and a diversion program. ACAP screens inquiries from consumers both by attempting to resolve routine concerns or minor disciplinary issues without opening a disciplinary file and by promptly referring matters that raise issues of more serious misconduct for investigation by the OBC. The aim of the diversion program is to offer education, evaluation, monitoring, or counseling to attorneys to address systemic problems in their practices and to provide training in legal ethics, law practice management, substantive practice areas, and client relations, with the expectation that some minor misconduct will be better and more permanently addressed by remediation than by discipline. An experienced assistant bar counsel from the ACAP staff acts as diversion director.
Clients’ Security Board
The CSB consists of seven members of the bar of the Commonwealth who are appointed by the Court to serve as public trustees of the Clients' Security Fund. A portion of the annual fee paid by each member of the bar is allocated to the Fund. CSB Board members manage and distribute the monies in the Fund to members of the public who have sustained a financial loss caused by the dishonest conduct of a member of the bar acting as an attorney or a fiduciary. The BBO currently provides administrative support to the CSB.
The Registration Department is the division of the BBO responsible for attorney compliance with Rule 4:02 and Rule 4:03, which govern the annual registration of every attorney admitted to, or engaging in, the practice of law in the Commonwealth. At the close of FY 2018, there were 59,092 Massachusetts attorneys registered on active status and another 11,879 attorneys on inactive status. The Registration Department administers the registration processes and collects funds for all attorney registrations. The department also processes applications for Pro Hac Vice status and tracks compliance with particular rules.
Salary and Benefits
The Assistant Bar Counsel are members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 6, AFL-CIO collective bargaining unit. Salary and benefits are the subject of the collectively bargained agreement between The Board of Bar Overseers of the Supreme Judicial Court (Employer) and Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 6, AFL-CIO (Union), March 23, 2018 - June 30, 2020. The salary range for this position is $94,436 to $154,919. New employees typically begin at or near the minimum step and proceed through a series of annual step increases followed by salary adjustments that are collectively bargained.
Applications and Inquiries
The BBO provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, veteran status, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, the BBO complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. As a unionized workplace, the BBO respects the rights of its employees under the existing collective bargaining agreement between the BBO and the union that represents them, OPEIU Local 6, AFL-CIO, and applicable labor law.
All inquiries, nominations/referrals, and applications, including a resume, letter of interest, and legal writing sample, should be submitted in confidence via email, referencing in the subject line “Assistant Bar Counsel Search”, to:Angela Puccini, Human Resources Manager
Board of Bar Overseers of the Supreme Judicial Court
99 High Street
Boston, MA 02110-2320