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

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...

Publication/Podcast

Verrill Voices: Newsflash - Rockweed Not a Fish

In this episode of Verrill Voices, environmental attorneys Gordon Smith and Scott Anderson discuss how private property rights could save the world, or at least the coast of Maine, when the fate of ecologically...

Matter

Aquaculture

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

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

Maine Adopts Amended Net Energy Billing Rules, New Commercial NEB Tariff Rate

Recent legislation amending the net energy billing (NEB) rules to include a tariff rate program specifically for commercial customers and directing the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to procure distributed generation, has prompted a...

Blog

First Circuit Acts on Appeal by South Portland Pipeline Company

On January 10, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit acted on the Portland Pipe Line Corporation’s (PPLC) appeal of the district court order upholding a South Portland zoning ordinance that...

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...

Publication/Podcast

Maine Supreme Court Decides Seaweed Is a Plant, Not a Fish

After deliberating for a year and a half in Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has unanimously held that rockweed, a type of seaweed that grows on rocks in the intertidal...

Blog

Maine Energy Storage Commission Issues Report to Legislature

The Commission to Study the Economic, Environmental and Energy Benefits of Energy Storage to the Maine Electricity Industry has issued its report to the Legislature. The Commission unanimously agreed on the benefits of energy...

Blog

Jim Cohen Addresses Maine Chamber Symposium About Risks of Public Power