On Tuesday, March 28, 2023, the State of Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar admonished attorney Edward L. Dilworth III for his failure to request written confirmation from his client about his agreement to share fees with the referring attorney.

The case is entitled “Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Edward L. Dilworth III,” with case no. 22-152.

The charges cited Maine Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5(e)(1) and 1.4(b) which states:

Requires written confirmation of the fee-sharing agreement at the time the other lawyer is employed.

Requires the lawyer to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

The matter is rooted in a complaint filed on September 19, 2021. Allegedly, the respondent failed to confirm in writing with the complainant his agreement to share fees with the referring attorney. While the fee sharing was disclosed in the two settlement statements which were signed by the complainant, this occurred well after the respondent was retained by the complainant. The problem is that rule 1.5(e) requires written confirmation of the fee-sharing agreement at the time the other lawyer is employed. Unfortunately, there was no such contemporaneous written consent by the complainant.

Moreover, it was alleged that before the mediation, the respondent did not discuss the statute of limitations, or any agreement to toll the statute of limitations with the client. The complainant stated that because of this, her negotiating position was affected by the mediator’s description of the statute of limitations issue. The complainant asserted then that the respondent’s failure to discuss it with her violates the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The filing states:

Thereafter, the Complainant filed a second Complaint on April 14, 2022, which attached is a copy of the Fee Arbitration Commission’s (FAC) Panel Award and Determination and Confidential Addendum (Petitioner’s Exhibit 42) and specifically set forth three (3) new allegations;

a. that the testimony Respondent provided in the FAC hearing contradicted the information provided in the first investigation and established that Complainant was not informed of, nor consented to, the agreement Respondent made to mediate after the expiration of the statute of limitations;

b. that Respondent did not provide Complainant with a written fee agreement explaining the terms under which Respondent and the Probate Attorney were dividing fees, and the Complainant did not authorize the payment of a referral fee; and

c. that Respondent’s FAC testimony demonstrated that he did not diligently research Driver’s assets in contradiction to statements he made on this issue during the investigation in GCF 21-223.

According to the Commission, although they found out that attorney Dilworth III did not act with the intent to harm his client’s interests, his misconduct still violated the duties that he owed to his clients and to the profession. Taking all of the above factors into consideration, and consistent with the analysis of the case, the commission finds that admonition is the appropriate sanction to address the misconduct by the respondent.

The Disposition states:

“Therefore, the Commission concludes that the appropriate disposition of this case is an ADMONITION to Edward L. Dilworth II, Esq. which is now hereby issued and imposed upon him pursuant to M. Bar R. 13(e)(10)(B) and 21(b)(1).”

As of today, Mr. Dilworth III is listed in the Dow’s Law Office, P.A. as a practicing attorney. He attended Ohio Northern University graduating in 1992. He practices in Norway, Maine. He is licensed in Maine. His info can be found at martindale.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.