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About Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson

Home to the largest Business Restructuring & Insolvency practice in the northeastern United States and one of the largest firms in New England, Bernstein Shur tackles business and municipal litigation for ad hoc committees, municipal bodies and authorities, hedge funds, nonprofits and  energy, entertainment, internet, automobile, manufacturing, and health care companies. The firm has represented clients including Wal-Mart, Foster Wheeler, Western Glove Works, and Atlantic Salmon Co. Its securities and financial services practices regularly find major players in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Stock Exchange among its midst.

Made in Maine

The son of poor immigrants, Israel Bernstein began solo practice in Portland in 1915. Fifteen years later, his brother Louis joined him in 1930 to create the brotherly partnership Bernstein & Bernstein, which set out to become a force in real estate, probate and commercial. As if it wasn’t enough of a family affair already, Israel’s son Sumner also came to join his father and uncle after WWII. In 1960, the addition of Leonard Nelson created Bernstein, Bernstein & Nelson in 1963, a firm that made its name on representing public entities.

Around the same time Louis and Israel were getting together, Barnett Shur was founded in 1930 in Portland by municipal lawyer Barney Shur. Herb Sawyer joined him in 1949, and the firm gained renown for insurance, trials, and personal injury litigation. In 1963, Bernstein, Bernstein & Nelson merged with Shur & Sawyer and in 1964 officially became Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson.

Bernstein Shur became a twofold entity in Maine with a second branch in Augusta in the 1980s and expanded its New England presence further with a 2003 office in Manchester, New Hampshire. Approaching the centenarian mark in terms of age, the firm has surpassed it in size, with more than 100 attorneys spread out over its 3 offices. Bernstein Shur has top rankings in Chambers for Corporate/M&A, Bankruptcy, Energy and Natural Resources, Environment, Labor & Employment, Real Estate and General Commercial Litigation, is a Benchmark Litigation “Recommended” Plaintiff Firm in Maine, and “Highly Recommended” for Appellate - First Circuit. Additionally, Bernstein Shur holds the 17th place in “Best Places to Work” in Maine 2012 and is the only law firm in Maine to be ranked three years in a row. A good portion of its attorneys are New England Super Lawyers, Rising Stars, and Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated. 

A Good Place to be a Parent

Bernstein Shur’s progressive parental leave policy, which includes adoptions, eschews the typical paltry six weeks of maternity leave. The firm one-ups most other small firms in this regard, allowing not only mothers, but fathers as well to be out of the office for six months, twelve weeks of it paid. But what really sets Bernstein Shur apart is its official written policy that time taken off for maternity leave will not impact a female associate’s odds of making partner. The firm sticks to its word. Just ask Attorney Recruiting Director Joan Fortin, who was promoted to partner while on maternity leave.    

No to Nortel Networks, Say Former Employees  

Bernstein Shur represented former employees of bankrupt Canadian telecommunications company Nortel Networks, which was redirecting $39.7 million in pensions for retired and disabled employees into deferred compensation funds. Bernstein Shur snagged the case because many other firms had a conflict of interest in the many-armed bankruptcy case. Lead attorney on the case Robert Keach, co-chair of the firm’s Business Restructuring and Insolvency Practice Group, was specifically sought out for his successful reversal of mortgage lender New Century Financial Corp.’s Chapter 11 claim on grounds of deferred compensation.   

Pro Bono Fellowship

Bernstein Shur’s summer associate program is longer than most, but for a literal “good” reason. The firm’s program runs 12 weeks, as opposed to the traditional 10, with four of these weeks slated to be filled with pro bono work. As part of Bernstein Shur’s unique Pro Bono Fellowship, students get to choose which legal services organization to work with, such as the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project or Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc. 

Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson

100 Middle Street
P.O. Box 9729
Portland, ME 04104-5029
Phone: (207) 774-1200

Firm Stats

CEO: Patrick J. Scully
Hiring Partner: Joan Fortin

Base Salary

1st year: $79,500
Summer assoicate: $1,528/week

Summer Program

Summer Associate Offers:
2 out of 3 (2013)

Employment Contact

Debra Humason-Fulgham
Recruiting Coordinator
(207) 228-7217

Major Office Locations

Portland, ME (HQ)
Augusta, ME
Manchester, NH

Major Departments

Asset Management & Securities
Business Law
Business Reorganization and Insolvency
Commercial & Governmental Finance
Construction Law
Corporate Governance
Crisis Management & Public Relations
Energy Law
Financial Regulation & Compliance
Fund & Investment Product Formation
Government & Politics
Government Relations
Health Care
Intellectual Property
International Business
Labor & Employment Law
Land Use & Environmental
Legislative and Political Law
Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Mergers & Acquisitions
Municipal & Governmental Services
Political Campaigns & Consulting
Private Capital
Real Estate Law
Succession Planning
Technology,  Outsourcing & Data Security
Title Insurance & Closing Services
Trusts and Estates