Biography

"Gordon Smith comes recommended for his work with renewables clients on development and permitting matters, as well as handling environmental litigation. Clients are impressed with his ability to 'think deeply and not superficially.'"

—Chambers USA 2017

Gordon brings together legal experience and a results-oriented, commonsense approach to provide clients with regulatory solutions, court victories, and strategic advice on a range of environmental and land use issues. Gordon fights to achieve sane and beneficial outcomes for his clients, allowing them to do what they want to do on their property. Gordon heads up the firm’s Coastal and Shoreland Group and co-chairs the firm’s Appellate Practice Group.

His practice includes particular experience in:

  • Resolution of land use issues and real estate disputes
  • Shoreland and coastal land use issues
  • Renewable energy development
  • Infrastructure permitting, financing, and operation
  • Federal and state wildlife protection statutes
  • Civil, administrative, and appellate litigation related to environmental, land use, and real estate disputes in state and federal courts

In the words of one litigation client:

"I worked with Gordon Smith on a landmark case involving property rights. This case was 15 years in the making and quite complex, involving science, history, property law, economics, and very old legal cases. I have worked with other lawyers in the past, and my stomach would be in a knot walking into their office. Working with Gordon, on the other hand, has been a great experience. He is patient, compassionate, incredibly smart (he quickly picks up on information outside his own field), and he is a great listener. He works efficiently, not wasting time or money, but thoroughly. He sees a path to the correct strategy and pursues it with integrity. If I ever have another legal matter for which I need help, I will run, not walk, to his office and hope he has time to take it on."

Gordon also counsels developers on the best ways to navigate the regulatory process in order to get projects built. In particular, Gordon has represented wind and solar power developers in all phases of project development, from land acquisition to obtaining local, state, and federal permits to supporting project finance and successfully defending projects against litigation in state and federal courts.

In the words of one wind power client:

"Gordy has helped us develop multiple grid-scale wind energy projects over the course of almost a decade. I always appreciate Gordy's counsel. Permitting strategy can be tricky, and he has continually guided us in the right direction time and time again. Legal experience aside, Gordy is naturally very intelligent and pragmatic. He often points out nuances that would probably be overlooked by most people, and this talent is especially useful when it comes to strategic planning. In addition, when a project has not been getting the attention it needed, Gordy has jumped in and acted as a de facto project manager. Gordy's great on the ground too—I have seen him calmly diffuse irate opponents at public meetings on multiple occasions. The bottom line: Gordy has played a crucial role in getting our projects built and operational and has been an essential member of our permitting team for years."

Gordon serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Maine School of Law, where he has taught real estate transactions and land use law.

When not practicing law, Gordon likes to do house carpentry, landscape, play tennis, hike, bike, ski, grill, and sip whiskey. Gordon is lucky enough to go home to his wonderful wife, daughter, and son, and the trusty house cat Scout, who is also known as Cuddles.

Services/Industries

Education

  • Georgetown University  (J.D.)
  • University of California, Berkeley  (B.A.)

Public Service

  • Volunteer Attorney, Maine Homeless Legal Project
  • Pro Bono Legal Counsel Provider, The Nature Conservancy

Bar Admissions

  • Maine

Honors

  • Recognized in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business under Environment
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© under Environmental Law, Land Use and Zoning Law
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in New England Rising Stars© under Environmental and Land Use/Zoning

To learn more about third-party ratings and rankings, and the selection processes used for inclusion, click here.

Court and Other Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maine
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Firm Highlights

News

38 Verrill Attorneys, Across Four Offices, Recognized in 2020 Chambers & Partners Guide

(April 27, 2020) – Verrill has been rated as a Leading Firm in a total of ten categories and subcategories as evaluated by London-based Chambers & Partners , one of the world's most respected...

Blog

Verrill’s Jim Cohen to Moderate Portland Chamber’s “Eggs & Issues” Discussion with Key State Officials regarding COVID-19

On Wednesday April 8, Verrill attorney and Portland Community Chamber of Commerce president James Cohen will moderate the Portland Chamber’s first-ever “virtual” Eggs & Issues on the subject of Maine’s response to the COVID-19...

Matter

Coastal Property Rights in Kennebunkport

We represented coastal landowners in a high-profile appeal before the Maine Supreme Court, in which the Town of Kennebunkport claimed ownership of Goose Rocks Beach against numerous homeowners whose deeds described property down to...

Blog

COVID-19 Alert: State of Maine and City of Portland Issue Orders to Close Non-essential Businesses; Utility Services to Continue

On Tuesday March 24, 2020, both the City of Portland and the State of Maine issued comprehensive new limitations on business establishments in order to further limit the spread of the coronavirus. Both actions...

Publication/Podcast

Saving Seaweed Via Maine Property Law

On June 13, 2019, Law360 published environmental attorney Gordon Smith's article, "Saving Seaweed Via Maine Property Law." Gordon discusses Ross v. Acadian Seaplants Ltd. , a decision by the Maine Supreme Court, where conservation-minded...

Matter

Aquaculture

Verrill represents both growers and coastal landowners regarding leasing and licensing of aquaculture enterprises.

News

Enforcement Issues with SJC Ruling for the Rockweed Industry

Environmental attorney Gordon Smith was quoted in the Machias Valley News Observer article, "One year after SJC ruling, enforcement issues plague rockweed industry," discussing the Ross v. Acadian Seaplant's decision in Maine. Questions about...

Publication/Podcast

The Risks and Regulations Associated with Waterfront Development in Maine

Matter

Protection of Private Coastal Property Rights for Conservation of Intertidal Habitat

Verrill successfully represented coastal landowners in first-impression litigation against a Canadian seaweed harvesting company with global operations to determine who owns the sea plants that are growing on private intertidal property in Maine. In...

Blog

COVID-19 Alert: Massachusetts Closes “Non-essential” Businesses; Utility Services to Continue

The response to COVID-19 by states across the U.S. has continued to evolve rapidly. In Massachusetts, due to growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus, Governor Charlie Baker issued a “ shelter in place&rdquo...