FAQs for Attorneys

How do I apply to be rostered to accept assignments?

You must file an application (PDF) with the Commission. The application is based on the minimum requirements set forth in Commission rule, Chapter 2: Standards for Qualifications of Assigned Counsel (PDF).

As the rule sets forth, if you have less than three years of practice experience you will have to take a Commission-sponsored or Commission-approved training in the area(s) of practice for which you want to receive assignments prior to becoming eligible. For attorneys with more than three years experience, the rule does provide the Commission with discretion to waive the initial training requirement. Please consult the rule for more information.

In addition, the Commission requires that 8 hours of the CLE required by the Board of Overseers of the Bar also be approved by the Commission as related to the areas of practice within the Commission's jurisdiction. Check the training page on this website frequently for a listing of qualifying CLE offered by other organizations.

The application (PDF) can be completed online and emailed to the Executive Director at mcils@maine.gov.

What are the benefits of accepting MCILS assignments?

  • Resource Counsel: You will be connected with an experienced attorney who will be available to meet with you, answer any questions you may have, serve as co-counsel to you or assist you in finding co-counsel if you’d like, and help you get started with the practice of criminal defense.
  • NAPD: Once you are a rostered attorney, you get a free National Association for Public Defense account, which includes free on-demand training videos and other resources.   
  • Westlaw: All rostered counsel get a free Westlaw account for conducting legal research in assigned cases.
  • Case Management Software: MCILS provides the case management software for use in all assigned cases at no cost to you.
  • Immigration Consultation: MCILS contracts with an immigration attorney to provide free consultations on all assigned cases.
  • Database of Experts: We maintain a database of private investigators and experts.
  • CLEs: We host CLEs throughout the year that are free to all rostered attorneys
How will I submit vouchers and receive payment for work on assigned cases?

The Commission is responsible for paying attorneys for work on assigned cases (except for GAL assignments). The Commission has set up a web-based vouchering system called DefenderData which must be used by all Commission attorneys to track time and submitting vouchers electronically.

What is the hourly rate paid to assigned counsel? What are the fee caps on cases?

The Commission has adopted a fee schedule which can be found under the adopted rules and standards titled Chapter 301: FEE SCHEDULE AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES FOR PAYMENT OF COMMISSION ASSIGNED COUNSEL.

How will I receive assignments to individual cases?

Because the Commission’s small staff will not allow it to be present in every courthouse, we rely on judges and clerks to assign cases to individual attorneys and provide notice of those assignments. To be eligible to receive an assignment, you must be on a roster that the Commission will provide to the courts. In addition, the assignment by the court will be provisional as the Commission is responsible for and has ultimate authority over the assignment of individual cases to individual attorneys. The court’s provisional assignment is accepted by the Commission in the vast majority of cases. Therefore, you should consider a notice of assignment that you receive from a court to be final unless you are contacted by the Commission. The Maine Rules of Criminal Procedure has been amended to provide a procedure for substituting counsel in the rare event that the Commission decides to change the provisional assignment made by the court.

Where do I apply for funds for experts and investigators?

You will need to file a Chapter 302 request for non-counsel vendor funds to hire experts and investigators. 

After November 1, 2023, all new Chapter 302 non-counsel vendor requests and approvals will be administered using our online form. To access that form after resetting your password, log in to your secure user account and navigate to the “Member Home” page. From there, scroll down and click the “Non-Counsel Vendor Funds Request” link. This link will bring you to our new non-counsel vendor funds requests and approvals form. Complete the form and hit submit. This will bring you to a page to finalize your request. Take one last look at the information you provided and hit submit again. Once you submit the form, you will be emailed a copy of the form completed with the information you provided. A member of the MCILS staff will review and process that form. Once a decision is made, you will receive an email containing the completed funds request and decision.

All invoices and accompanying documentation must be submitted by email to mcils.invoices@maine.gov. Please note that when submitting invoices for payment all invoices must be accompanied by a copy of the authorization of funds and an email from the assigned counsel stating that services were rendered and satisfactory.

Who will decide if an individual is indigent and entitled to assigned counsel?

The court. Whether a person is indigent and whether the nature of the case mandates that an indigent person receive representation at state expense are generally issues of constitutional dimension that are appropriately decided by the court. Accordingly, you should advise clients seeking assigned counsel to file an application with the court.

What if I disagree with a decision of the Executive Director regarding payment of vouchers or assignment of cases?

The Commission has created an administrative review procedure through which an attorney aggrieved by a decision of the Executive Director can seek review. See under Adopted Rules - Chapter 201: APPEALS OF DECISIONS OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

James Billings, Esq.
Executive Director
Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services
154 State House Station Augusta, Maine 04333
(207) 287-3254 Phone
Email: jim.billings@maine.gov