2020 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“The people I work with.”
“Entrepreneurial spirit and quality of work/knowledge-base.”
“Associate compensation could be better.”
“The current office setup is not ideal.”
About Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson
With more than 100 lawyers across three New England offices, 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. Some of the firm’s clients have included Wal-Mart, Foster Wheeler, Western Glove Works, and Atlantic Salmon Co.
Made in Maine
Bernstein Shur was born of a merger in 1964 between two New England firms: Bernstein, Bernstein & Nelson and Shur & Sawyer. The former dates back to 1915 when Israel Bernstein began a solo practice in Portland, ME. He was joined by his brother, Louis, in 1930 with an aim to become a force in real estate, probate, and commercial. The pair was later joined by Israel's son Sumner after WWII and to-be name partner Leonard Nelson in the 1960s.
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.
Bernstein Shur has stayed true to its New England roots, but over the years, the firm has expanded beyond its Portland beginnings, with the addition of an Augusta, ME, office in the 1980s and a Manchester, NH, office in 2003.
With 28 practice areas, Bernstein Shur offers wide-ranging legal services to its clients across more than a dozen industries. The firm is particularly well known for its corporate, energy, litigation, and real estate work—among other areas. The firm doesn’t practice inside a box; much of its work is interdisciplinary and crosses practice areas.
The firm’s M&A group is well regarded in New England, providing strategic counsel to clients, including buyers, sellers, target companies, venture capital and investment companies. The firm prides itself in not merely tackling the isolated transaction but taking time to understand each client’s business to best advise on long-term goals.
In the energy arena, the firm has experience working with clients across the globe on the whole gamut of energy issues—from financing to insurance. The firm’s experience ranges from local matters to much larger international ones. Among the firm’s focuses include contract negotiation, government issues, insurance matters, real estate issues, renewable energy, and tax matters
The firm’s boasts a top-notch real estate practice with around 25 of its attorneys focused on this area. Lawyers are skilled in handling everything from development projects to leases to real estate litigation to tax-financed projects to real estate finance issues, and so much more. The firm even has an in-house title insurance company, offering clients the ultimate convenience.
Partnering for Diversity
In December 2019, Bernstein Shur announced a partnership with two other Maine law firms—Pierce Atwood and Verrill— and the University of Maine School of Law to create the Main Diversity Summer Associate Program. Through this program six diverse 1Ls will participate in a 10-week paid summer internship at one of the three firms. The program will strive to provide the summer associates with networking and professional development activities, while also bringing more diversity to Maine’s legal community.
News & Awards
As part of their shared commitment to diversity and inclusion, three of Maine’s largest law firms—Bernstein Shur, Pierce Atwood, and Verrill—have joined forces with the University of Maine School of Law (Maine Law) to launch the Maine Diversity Summer Associate Program. This unique initiative will focus on building a diverse legal community in Maine by attracting a diverse pool of first-year law students (1Ls) from across the country for a ten-week paid summer internship in 2020 at one of the three participating law firms.
Bernstein Shur attorney Ari Solotoff received the Maine Justice Foundation’s New Lawyer Award for exemplifying the foundation’s mission to ensure that all Maine people have access to the justice system.
Bernstein Shur announced in April 2019 that shareholder and director of attorney recruiting and retention, Joan Fortin, will become the first female chief executive officer in the firm’s 104-year history on January 1, 2020, upon the retirement of current CEO Pat Scully.
Bernstein Shur was thrilled to announce its adoption of an industry-leading parental leave policy in May 2018. This expanded policy provides 16 weeks of paid leave to all new parents (attorneys and staff members) regardless of gender. In particular, the policy removes any distinction between “primary” and “secondary” caregivers and provides equal benefits to all new parents as a result of birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
100 Middle Street
P.O. Box 9729
Portland, ME 04104-5029
Phone: (207) 774-1200
CEO: Joan M. Fortin
Hiring Partner: Lindsay Leone
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
100 - 150
1st year: $92,000
Summer Associate: $1,769/week
Summer Associate Offers:
4 out of 4 (2019)
No. of Summer Associates:
5 total (4 2Ls; 1 1Ls) (2019)
Portland, ME (HQ)
Business Restructuring and Insolvency
Energy & Environmental
Government and Public Affairs
Labor & Employment
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.