The Vermont Supreme Court has the power under the Vermont Constitution to oversee the professional conduct of all attorneys practicing in Vermont. The court formed the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board to administer the professional responsibility program, which regulates the legal profession.

 

About the Board

The Professional Responsibility Board was created to assist the court in regulating the legal profession. The board oversees the professional responsibility program, which:

  • Resolves ethics complaints against attorneys
  • Investigates and disciplines attorney misconduct
  • Assists attorneys and the public by providing education, advice, referrals, and other information

The board is responsible for adopting procedures to meet these functions, as outlined in Administrative Order 9, Rule 1. 

The board provides the court with an annual report, including statistics. A complete list of annual reports is available at the bottom of this page.

The Supreme Court appoints the board members. The board consists of

  • Three attorneys admitted to the Vermont bar
  • Three public members
  • One judge or retired judge
Board Members

Jan Eastman, Esq.

Chair

Michael Hanley, Esq.

Vice-Chair

Honorable Brian L. Burgess

Member

Carolyn Anderson, Esq.

Member

Christopher Chapman

Member

Linda O'Brien

Member

Lisa Ventriss

Member

Bar Counsel

The board employs bar counsel to:

  • Administer the dispute resolution program
  • Respond to inquiries from lawyers regarding ethics and law practice
  • Consult and coordinate with other state and local bar associations
  • Confer with the board to review program operations
  • Provide administrative and legal support to the board

Bar counsel screens all complaints of attorney misconduct. In response to a complaint, bar counsel may:

  • Contact the subject attorney (respondent)
  • Conduct a limited investigation to determine the nature of the inquiry
  • Resolve any complaint that does not appear to need formal intervention
  • Dismiss a complaint

If bar counsel dismisses a complaint, the complainant may seek review from the chair of the board.

Decisions

Prior to September 1, 1999 the Professional Responsibility Board was known as the Professional Conduct Board. Any case which was originally heard prior to that date, even if the decision was released after September 1, 1999 is listed under the Professional Conduct Board.

Professional Responsibility Board

A Digest of Decisions provides a brief summary of each decision made by the Board as well as information needed to locate the decision. For older PRB decisions (Decisions 1-72), there is a separate Digest.

Professional Conduct Board

A Digest of Decisions provides a brief summary of each decision made by the Board as well as information needed to locate the decision.  

Hearing Calendar

In the cases listed on this page, there are disciplinary proceedings pending. Files in these cases are a matter of public record and available for examination at the Office of the Professional Responsibility Board, 1st Floor of the Supreme Court Building, 111 State Street, Montpelier.

Hearing Panels

The chair of the Professional Responsibility Board appoints standing hearing panels. Each hearing panel consists of two members of the Vermont bar and one public member. The board chair appoints an attorney member of each hearing panel to serve as chair of the panel. The hearing panels adhere to the board's Manual for Hearing Panels. 

Jean B. Giddings, Esq.

Hearing Panel 2, Chair

Joseph F. Cook, Esq.

Hearing Panel 2

Greg Worden

Hearing Panel 2

Sheila Ware, Esq.

Hearing Panel 3, Chair

Jeffrey S. Martin, Esq.

Hearing Panel 3

Kevin O'Donnell

Hearing Panel 3

Jill Lanman Broderick, Esq.

Hearing Panel 4, Chair

Mary K. Parent, Esq.

Hearing Panel 4

David Tucker

Hearing Panel 4

Erin J. Gilmore, Esq.

Hearing Panel 5, Chair

Michele Patton, Esq.

Hearing Panel 5

Christopher Bray

Hearing Panel 5

Caryn E. Waxman, Esq.

Hearing Panel 6, Chair

John P. Cain, Esq.

Hearing Panel 6

William Schubart

Hearing Panel 6

Jesse Bugbee, Esq.

Hearing Panel 7, Chair

Vanessa Kittell, Esq.

Hearing Panel 7

Carl J. Rosenquist

Hearing Panel 7

Beth Novotny, Esq.

Hearing Panel 8, Chair

Andrew D. Manitsky, Esq.

Hearing Panel 8

VACANT

Hearing Panel 8

Karl C. Anderson, Esq.

Hearing Panel 9, Chair

Kate Thomas, Esq.

Hearing Panel 9

Joanne Cillo

Hearing Panel 9

Jonathan M. Cohen, Esq.

Hearing Panel 10, Chair

Mary Welford, Esq.

Hearing Panel 10

Roger Preuss

Hearing Panel 10

Mark DiStefano, Esq.

Hearing Panel Counsel

Assistance Panels

The Professional Responsibility Board also appoints three-member assistance panels to review complaints referred to it by bar counsel or disciplinary counsel. The panels were created to provide resolution to complaints by means other than discipline, guided by the board's Manual for Assistance Panels. 

With agreement of the attorney against whom an ethics complaint was filed, the panel can impose conditions such as:

  • Participation in law office training
  • Continuing legal education
  • Counseling
  • Substance abuse programs
  • Referral to fee arbitration

The assistance panel may transfer a matter to disciplinary counsel.

Steven Adler, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Joseph F. Cahill, Jr., Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Leslie Hanafin, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Emily Gould, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Robert Fairbanks, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Katherine Mosenthal, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Robert O'Neill, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Susan Palmer, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Alan Rome, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Janet P. Shaw, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Peter Van Oot, Esq.

Assistance Panel Member

Susan Fay

Assistance Panel Member

Judith Lidie

Assistance Panel Member

Peter Keelan

Assistance Panel Member

Neal Rodar

Assistance Panel Member

R. Brownson Spencer II

Assistance Panel Member

Peter Zuk

Assistance Panel Member

Disciplinary Prosecution

If disciplinary counsel concludes that prosecution is necessary, disciplinary counsel files a request for review for probable cause. If a hearing panel finds that there is probable cause to believe that a lawyer has violated the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct, disciplinary counsel begins formal disciplinary proceedings. The matter is assigned to a different panel than the panel that reviewed the request for probable cause.

After disciplinary counsel files formal charges, a hearing may be held. Disciplinary counsel informs the complainant of the date and place of the hearing.

Disciplinary counsel has the burden of proving the alleged violations by clear and convincing evidence. The hearing panel resolves the case by making findings of fact and conclusions of law and, in cases where a violation is found, imposing a sanction against the lawyer’s license.

Either disciplinary counsel or the charged lawyer may appeal the order. The court can also order its own review.

Attorney Trust Accounts

The Professional Responsibility Board's guide "Managing Client Trust Accounts, Rules, Regulations and Tips” is for both new and experienced lawyers dealing with trust accounting questions.

Because there are no absolute rules, the guide provides only basic rules, highlighting areas that will always require a lawyer's best judgment. It also dispenses practical advice based on years of answering lawyers' questions. If you are an attorney and have a trust account question, please call the Professional Responsibility Board at 802-859-3000 or 802-828-3204.

The board has also developed a trust account questionnaire. 

This questionnaire serves as a tool that Vermont attorneys can use to assess the procedures by which they manage their trust accounting systems. The questionnaire is the result of several years of input from the board, bar counsel, disciplinary counsel, and certified public accountants. It provides a starting point for self-education on trust account management. Completion of the questionnaire is not a substitute for complying with the rules.

Rule 1.15B(a)(1) of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct requires members of the Vermont Bar to maintain their trust accounts only in financial institutions approved by the Professional Responsibility Program. Financial institutions which have not been so approved may obtain information as to how to become certified by contacting the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (802) 859-3000.

Bank of Bennington
Berkshire Bank
Brattleboro Savings & Loan Association
Citizens Bank
Claremont Savings Bank
Community National Bank
Green Mountain Credit Union
Heritage Family Federal Credit Union
Key Bank
Lake Sunapee Bank, a Division of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust
Ledyard National Bank
Mascoma Savings Bank (NH)
Merchants Bank
National Bank of Middlebury
NBT Bank
New England Federal Credit Union
North Country Federal Credit Union
Northfield Savings Bank
Passumpsic Savings Bank
Peoples Trust Company
People's United
TD Bank, N.A.
Union Bank
Vermont Federal Credit Union
Vermont State Employees Credit Union
Wells River Savings Bank
Disciplinary Counsel

The board employs disciplinary counsel to:

  • Administer the disciplinary program
  • Investigate and litigate disciplinary and disability matters
  • Select and recommend investigative staff
  • Confer with the board to review operations

If alleged misconduct may require disciplinary sanctions, the board refers the complaint is referred to disciplinary counsel.

Discipline may be imposed for:

  • Violation of professional conduct rules
  • Violation of a rule or order of a hearing panel, the board, or the court
  • Failure to give information or respond to a request for information from disciplinary counsel, a hearing panel, or the court

Disciplinary counsel investigates and can:

  • Dismiss the complaint
  • Refer it to an assistance panel
  • Commence formal disciplinary proceedings
  • Commence disability proceedings

If disciplinary counsel dismisses a complaint after investigation, the complainant is notified of the reasons for the dismissal. There is no further review of that decision.

Contact Information

Office of Bar Counsel

Michael Kennedy, Esq.
Costello Courthouse
32 Cherry Street, Suite 213
Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: 802-859-3000

Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Sarah Katz, Esq.
Costello Courthouse
32 Cherry Street, Suite 213
Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: 802-859-3000

Professional Responsibility Board

Deb Laferriere, Program Administrator
Vermont Supreme Court
Professional Responsibility Program
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609
Phone: 802-828-3204