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Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson

About Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson

With more than 125 lawyers across three New England offices, Bernstein Shur focuses on 28 key areas across a variety of industries. The firm is Maine’s exclusive member of Lex Mundi.

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. 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 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

Since 2019, Bernstein Shur has partnered with two other Maine law firms—Pierce Atwood and Verrill— and the University of Maine School of Law to create the Maine Diversity Summer Associate Program. Through this program, six diverse 1Ls participate in a 10-week paid summer internship at one of the three firms. The strives to provide the summer associates with networking and professional development activities, while also bringing more diversity to Maine’s legal community.

News & Awards




Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson

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

Firm Stats

CEO: Joan M. Fortin
Hiring Partner: Lindsay Leone
Total No. Attorneys (2021):
100 - 150
No. of Partners Named 2020:

Base Salary

All offices
1st year: $95,000
2nd year: $97,000
3rd year: $100,000
*Not lock step beyond 3rd year
Summer Associate: Approximately $1,820/week

Employment Contact

Elijah Washburn
Marketing Coordinator
(207) 228-7162
General Recruiting Email:

No. of U.S. Offices: 3

No. of International Offices: 0

Major Office Locations

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

Major Departments

Business Law
Business Restructuring and Insolvency
Energy & Environmental
Government and Public Affairs
Labor & Employment
Real Estate
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.