State Board of Architects – Winter Report – New faces, new challenges.

After nearly 25 years as the deployed Assistant Attorney General serving the five Maryland design boards, Milena Trust, Esq. has assumed the position of Principal Counsel to the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. From an outpost in DLLR with a $1.5 M budget, to a Department with $100 M+ budgets for unemployment funds, among other programs has meant a big increase in duties.  For those 25 years Ms. Trust has dispensed advice mixed with humor to elevate Design Board Meetings above dull routine.

Ms. Trust is a graduate of Towson University (BA, magna cum laude), and the University of Baltimore Law School (Juris Doctor, summa cum laude). She served as an associate at DLR Piper Law Firm before joining the Maryland Attorney General’s office where she was assigned to the DLLR Design Boards. None of the five Boards may meet without an Assistant Attorney General present during the entire meeting, so Ms. Trust is now a veteran of nearly 1,000 design professional meetings. These meetings have ranged from interminably boring to somewhat exciting when a Board will convene as an adjudicatory body to stand in judgement of a fellow professional. Stripping a colleague of a professional meal ticket (license) is not an action to be taken lightly, and Ms. Trust has seen Boards fine miscreants over $20,000.00 in some cases.

All legal activity could make a person dull, but the lively Ms. Trust is an accomplished pianist who has musically enlivened some NCARB activities outside her home of Baltimore.

The arc of the Attorney General’s attitude toward design professionals has evolved over time as Ms. Trust has served three incumbents, Curran, Gansler, and Frosh. In the early 1990’s, architects seeking to serve on the SBOA were encouraged not to join The AIA. The recession of the 1990’s led to tensions between engineers and architects over turf and fees.

Working with The AIA, key legislators, DLLR Staff, and Ms. Trust, the SBOA got the right to fine imposter architects. A memo in 1997 explained to the permit reviewers at the County Building Departments that architects were permitted to design the “integral parts” of their buildings. The memo was reaffirmed by the SBOA in 2002. However, in 2004 the Overlapping Practice Panels were felt by some to have weakened the intent of the memo to permit the components of integral practice.

The 2016 U.S. Supreme Court “North Carolina Dental Board” decision appears to increase risk to the role of volunteer professional boards across the nation, and a Study Group in Maryland with Ms. Trust as one of the members, evolved a law to protect the professional staff of Maryland’s Professional Boards. With the attitude of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission finding “Restraint of Trade” in the actions of most USA professional boards, those boards may be vulnerable to fines with triple damages. A Dr. Geier has won a $2.5M judgement against the Maryland Physicians’ Board. The Courts may set Dr. Geier aside, but he showed that Boards can be sued.

Into this complicated situation enters Ms. Jessica Praley, Assistant Attorney General, to serve as the new counsel to the Architects’, Engineers’, Landscape Architects’, Surveyors’, and Interior Designers’ Boards. Ms. Praley is a graduate of George Washington University (BA) and the University of Baltimore Law School (Juris Doctor) and has clerked with Judge Hon. Laura Kiessling. She has worked with several law firms before joining the Maryland Attorney General’s office. We wish Ms. Praley luck in service professional boards.