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August 14, 2018

Task Force on the Model Definition of the Practice of Law

Comments on Draft Definition

Comment Submitted via Email

I have read the proposed definition of the practice of law at the ABA Web Site and have a question. Here in Maine, both lawyers and non-lawyers serve as Guardian Ad Litems for children in both family law (divorce, parental rights and responsibilities, etc) matters as well as representing children in child abuse and neglect matters. Whether or not you are a lawyer, you must go through and complete a preliminary training session and get certified by the Court. There are minimal additional training requirements to keep up your certification each year.

As a GAL you enter your appearance both in the original matter of appointment but you also have the right to enter an appearance, testify or prosecute a matter on behalf of the children if there is a criminal matter pending where the child is a potential witness or in a Protection From Abuse Petition (formerly commonly referred to as a Restraining order).

I am concerned that the non-lawyer GAL will run into problems under the proposed definition. Perhaps the section where you include the language "mediator, arbitrator, etc" could or should be amended to included Court appointed GAL or CASA volunteers as well?

I would strongly suspect that this type of question will surface in more states than just Maine. I would hate to see some poor GAL get involved in a situation where a disgruntled litigant or parent tried to use the proposed definition to initiate some sort of litigation against the GAL.

I would be happy to discuss this further with you or other members of the Committee if you would like. Thank you.

Anne H. Jordan Esq.
Norman Hanson and DeTroy
Portland, Maine