Every state has different laws and legal precedents. As such, if you are facing a legal issue in Maine, you are best served by and Maine attorney that is experienced and knowledgeable about relevant state laws, statutes and judicial precedent that can affect your case. Many legal matters, from drunk driving to exemptions in bankruptcy judgments will vary by the state, so the Maine lawyer will be the most knowledgeable asset for handling these matters.
How do laws vary from state to state?
Bankruptcy exemptions are one example of how laws vary from state to state. Like many states, Maine residents filing for bankruptcy may opt to use federal exemptions or opt for their state’s exemptions, depending on which arrangement they feel is more favorable to their needs. The Maine homestead exemption is $12,500, doubled for a married couple and $60,000 for those that are disabled or the elderly. The homestead exemption applies to a primary residence only and exempts that property form bankruptcy judgments. The homestead exemption in Maine can be exchanged for a burial plot exemption.
Most insurance and pension benefits will fall under Maine bankruptcy exemptions. Most basic necessities such as food to last six months, cooking and heating fuel and health aids are also subject to the Maine bankruptcy exemptions. Motor vehicles are exempted up to $2,500 in value. Other miscellaneous exemptions include jewelry, farm implements, military equipment and tools. State bankruptcy exemptions tend to be specifically tailored to the state. A Maine bankruptcy attorney will help you determine if you should use these exemptions as well as explain the local bankruptcy laws and rules that will benefit you. This sort of experience is needed when dealing with legal matters in Maine.
What is the Maine Bar Association?
The Maine Bar Association, founded in 1891, is an organization for Maine attorneys with over 3,100 members. Its stated goals are promoting the interests of the legal profession and instituting legal reforms. Among the services provided are a number of Continuing Legal Education courses for lawyers to become informed on new developments that affect their area of practice as well as the legal profession as a whole. 11 hours of CLE courses are mandatory in Maine for all Maine attorneys annually. Some CLE courses can be completed via web seminar, self-study and video courses. Being able to complete mandatory CLE through the Maine Bar is one benefit for Maine Attorneys. Discounts are available for Maine attorneys completing CLE courses.
Maine attorneys that are members of the MBA will receive subscriptions to the Maine Bar Journal and The Supplement newsletter. These publications provide commentary on issues affect lawyers in Maine as well as relevant legal opinions and court decisions. The MBA also publishes practice manuals and a Standard of Title resource for lawyers. Members will have access to all of these documents.
Other bar associations in Maine includes the Maine Trial Lawyers Association, Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Knox County Bar Association. The Cumberland Bar Association in Maine is one of the oldest organizations of lawyers in the United States.
How do I know my Maine attorney is legitimate?
The courts will have provisions in place to prevent the unauthorized practice of law in Maine. Still, would should check your lawyer’s credentials if you have any doubts about his or her right to practice law in Maine. All lawyers must have attended law school and pass the bar exam in the state in which they intend to practice law.
Evaluating Values and Experience
Professionalism is important in working with a lawyer and most bar associations will maintain standards of acceptable professional conduct. This will include civility in court, meeting obligations to clients and being truthful on matters such as lawyer fees. If you suspect unethical behavior form your Maine lawyer, you should file a complaint with the Maine Bar for resolution.
How might laws change in Maine?
There have been recent efforts at tort reform in Maine that would limit damages collected from malpractice and other negligent actions. While this is not yet the law in Maine, laws limiting personal injury cases may be passed at any point in the near future. As such, a local Maine attorney, through CLE and professional networks, will be aware of such changes and will adjust your case accordingly. This is yet another reason why a local lawyer is important when facing a legal issue in Maine.
Finding a Maine attorney
You may use the Maine State Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service to find a Maine lawyer. There will be lawyers available from a broad range of legal practice sections and the service is certified by the American Bar Association. As the service is certified by the ABA, it must abide by certain standards and criteria to maintain its affiliation. If you find a Maine attorney through the LRIS, you will almost certainly have an excellent legal professional working on your case.
When you call the LRIS, you will speak with a referral specialist who will also be able to answer many common questions about your situation or the legal process in general. Some may find they don’t need a lawyer at all and the LRIS has dispensed valuable advice for handling the situation. There is a $25 fee to use this service. The lawyer is obligated to communicate with you within three days of being contacted by you with the auspices of the LRIS. If that lawyer does not cooperate, the LRIS will refer you to another lawyer at no cost.
You may use this website to find an attorney using the Find Attorney function at the top of the page.
What are the typical rates of a Maine attorney?
Typical rules apply, such as working on contingency for accident cases, variable fees for complicated cases and flat fees for providing legal services, such as composing legal documents. All Louisiana attorney fees are subject to review and approval by the court.
A retainer arrangement is an agreement between the attorney and client to set up a billable trust account. This account may be refilled at any time at the discretion of the attorney and the client should be aware of this possibility.
Flat fees are typical of legal services that do not go to court. Unlike personal injury and other litigation, legal service fees are usually advertised, allowing the client to pick the best deal. There must be considerations for the quality of the lawyer and the document produced, of course. Initial consultations will also be flat fee arrangements.
What are questions to ask Maine attorneys?
How does my case relate to Maine laws?
Are local laws in effect for this case?
What is the statute of limitations for a case such as mine?
What are your fees and do you have alternate payment plans?
Are you a member, in good standing, of the Maine Bar Association?
What roles do you play as a member?
Are you a member of a local Bar Association?
Can I please have all fees in writing?
What are my chances of winning a settlement or at trial?