James I. Cohen: Public Service

Education and Community Service

Mr. Cohen grew up in Portland, received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and his J.D. from the Columbia School of Law. As a Portland resident, Mr. Cohen has served on numerous community boards, including a term as president of Portland Trails; founding president of the North Deering Neighborhood Association; and vice president of budget and finance for the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Cohen is a former trustee of the Maine Public Spending Research Group and the Maine Association of Mediators. As a board member of the Portland Regional Chamber, he helped spearhead the Chamber's effort to establish a regional economic development authority in partnership with the Metro Regional Coalition.

Political Experience

From 2002 to 2008, Mr. Cohen served on the Portland City Council, including a term as Mayor of Maine's largest city. During his tenure, Mr. Cohen successfully spearheaded initiatives ranging from expanding Portland's creative economy, to helping form and then chairing a six-community partnership called the Metro Regional Coalition; to helping form a Joint Task Force to address renovation of the Cumberland County Civic Center; to hosting two regional bus transit summits in collaboration with MaineDOT and the Governor; to developing the Volunteer Portland website and eContact constituent services system; to chairing committees to renovate a local elementary school and expand the Portland International Jetport. As Mayor, Mr. Cohen organized the Sustainable Portland Task Force and was the first mayor in Maine to sign onto the U.S. Conference of Mayor's Climate Action Plan in 2006. He received a Service for the Environment Award from the Sierra Club for his efforts. Mr. Cohen also established the Mayor's Healthy Portland Task Force to promote walking and biking and to curb public smoking; in recognition of these efforts, Mr. Cohen received the Ruth M. Shaper Memorial Award from the Maine Association of Public Health. Mr. Cohen was the first-ever chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee, and in 2006 he served as vice-chair of the Community and Faith-Based Initiatives Task Force of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Mr. Cohen presided over the formation of a regional crime lab, which is now named after him and former Portland Police Chief Timothy Burton and received a commendation from the Portland Police Department for his efforts. Mr. Cohen chaired the City Council's Finance Committee and Cumberland County's Budget Advisory Committee. As Mayor, Mr. Cohen hosted a monthly call-in cable television program, and during his six years of public service frequently appeared on television, on the radio, or in the local press – including as a columnist in a local newspaper. From 2009-10, Mr. Cohen served as vice-chair of the Portland Charter Commission, and was the top vote-getter in the election to the Commission.

Public Service

Mayor, City of Portland (2005 - 2006)
Portland City Council (2002 - 2008)
Portland Charter Commission, Vice Chair (2009 - 2010)
Portland Regional Chamber, Chair (2012 - 2014) Trustee (2008 - present)
Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Trustee (2009 - present)
Maine Public Spending Research Group, Trustee (2005 - 2008)
U.S. Conference of Mayors, Community and Faith-Based Initiatives Task Force, Vice Chair (2006)
Portland Trails, President (1997 - 1998), Advisory Trustee (2002 - )
Portland Symphony Orchestra, VP of Budget and Finance (1999 - 2002)
Portland City Council Finance Committee, Chair (2006 - 2008)
Metro Regional Coalition, Chair (2007 - 2008)
Cumberland County Budget Advisory Committee, Chair (2005)
Downtown Portland Corporation (2005 - 2006)
Portland City Council, Community Development Committee (2002 - 2005; 2007 - 2008)
Creative Economy Steering Committee, Chair (2007 - 2008)
Portland City Council Transportation Committee, Chair (2002 - 2005)
Jetport Master Planning Committee, Chair (2005 - 2007)
Greater Portland Transit District, Trustee (2002 - 2005)
Narrow Gauge Rail Alignment Committee, Chair (2005)
Sustainable Portland Task Force (2006 - 2007)
Portland City Council, Energy and Sustainability Committee (2007 - 2008)
Riverton School Building Committee, Co-Chair (2005 - 2006)
Cumberland County Civic Center Joint Task Force (2006 - 2010)
Mayor's Healthy Portland Task Force (2006 - 2008)
Communities Putting Prevention to Work (ARRA program), Leadership Council (2010 - )
North Deering Neighborhood Assoc., Founding Pres. (2001), Trustee (2002 - )
Portland Public Library, Trustee (2005 - 2006)

Firm Highlights

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...

Event

Central Maine Human Resources Association Chapter Meeting: Flexible Work Options

Employment and labor attorney Tawny Alvarez will be presenting at the Central Maine Human Resources Association Chapter Meeting. This month's chapter meeting will focus on flexible work options. Tawny will discuss how policy impacts...

Publication/Podcast

Mental Health Wellness Tips for Quarantine

We understand that self-isolation and quarantine can be mentally, especially with no definitive end to the pandemic in sight. To help you and your family better cope during COVID-19, we have developed a list...

Matter

Management Audit

Verrill represented Emera in its 2016 distribution rate case before the Maine PUC. The case involved issues relating to significant new capital investments, including Emera's new customer information system and a controversial substation investment...

Event

2020 OHRP Exploratory Workshop

Health care attorney Emily Fogler will be presenting at the 2020 OHRP Exploratory Workshop in the third session, discussing sharing responsibilities and protecting participants - redefining roles in the single IRB era. Stay tuned...

News

Verrill Signs Pledge in Support of Advancing Diversity & Inclusion in Connecticut Legal Community

(March 10, 2020) – Verrill has officially joined the Connecticut Bar Association in its ongoing commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the region’s legal community by signing “The Connecticut Legal Community’s Diversity &...

Blog

With CARES Act, Congress provides retirement plan relief and group health plan changes

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, includes a number of provisions that affect retirement plan sponsors and participants. These provisions are designed to provide...

Blog

CARES Act Imposes Limits on Executive Pay over $425,000 for Businesses Seeking Financial Assistance

On Friday, March 27, 2020, the $2 trillion assistance package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) was signed into law. The CARES Act provides a variety of...

Publication/Podcast

The SBA Paycheck Protection Program: An Overview

Good news, bad news. The good news is that the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA) look like they will provide a much needed lifeline for small businesses...

Matter

Management Inefficiency

Verrill represented Emera in its 2017 distribution rate case before the Maine PUC, which included: defeating Staff's proposed reduction to allowed return on equity for "management inefficiency;" approval of new expenditures, such as an...