Practice Areas

Telecommunications

  • Co-chair of the firm's Telecommunications Group
  • Federal Communications Bar Association, member of New England Steering Committee
  • Since the mid-1990’s, Jim has counseled telecommunications providers on matters such as Maine PUC regulation, government procurement, universal service, the approval of a dark fiber provider, tax policy, and the siting of telecommunications facilities in the public right-of-way

Energy

  • Assist transmission and distribution utilities before the Maine PUC in transactions and regulatory proceedings, including rate setting, mergers, rate design, purchase power agreements, special rate agreements, rulemakings, customer complaints, and investigations
  • Advises natural gas utilities, wood pellet heat providers, and energy aggregators on contracting, procurement, and state regulatory and legislative matters
  • Participated in the drafting and adoption of nearly every major piece of energy legislation adopted in Maine since 1995, including the 1997 Electric Restructuring Act and the 2013 Omnibus Energy Act

Water and Wastewater

  • Assist water systems in transactions, rulemakings, and litigated proceedings before the Maine PUC, including main extensions, mergers and acquisitions, local governance, regional cooperation, eminent domain, rate setting, rate design, right-of-way, customer complaints, and commission investigations
  • Regularly assist trade associations on a wide range of legislative and regulatory matters
  • Helped to form Maine's first regional nonprofit organization for water utilities

Government and Public Relations

  • Director of Maine Street Solutions, Verrill's government relations arm
  • Provide legal and government relations services to businesses and trade associations before the Maine Legislature on issues related to energy, telecommunications, public water systems, taxation, legal services, transportation, municipal law, substance use disorder treatment, and general business and regulatory matters
  • Assist clients with media outreach and strategy
  • Primary draftsperson of Maine's current law governing state, county, and municipal spending
  • Counsel for several statewide ballot initiatives
  • Assist clients in numerous rulemaking and adjudicatory proceedings, including before the Maine PUC, the Maine Department of Education, the Maine Department of Transportation, Maine Revenue Services, and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services

Banking and Financial Services

  • Chair of firm'sBanking & Financial Services Group
  • Provide regulatory and transactional advice to banks and financial institutions with regard to state and federal banking and consumer credit laws
  • Assist financial institutions with obtaining new charters and approvals to do business
  • Develop new agreements and processes for deposit accounts, lending products, or electronic banking
  • Responds to crises ranging from security breaches and criminal activity to disputes over account access
  • Maine State Bar Association: Consumer and Financial Institutions Section, Chair (1999-2000), Member (1996-present)

Municipal Law

  • Served as an elected official in Maine's largest city for seven years, including a term as Mayor of Portland
  • Advise local governments, special purpose districts, and private businesses on issues such as procurement, right to know laws, land use, licensure, ordinance changes, finance and spending, and election issues
  • Assist businesses with local ordinances, land use and development, transportation infrastructure, school construction and finance, and economic development matters pending before local municipal boards
  • Advise businesses regarding local property tax assessments and represent property taxpayers in abatement proceedings
  • Assist businesses with regard to liquor licensure, including change in control and operational requirements

Procurement

  • Successfully represented numerous businesses seeking or maintaining government grants or contracts, including a $50 million statewide radio contract, a $25 million federal grant for a statewide middle-mile fiber network, a multimillion-dollar contract for educational data collection, and a substantial contract for local airport services
  • Advised businesses in contested procurement disputes before state and local government agencies, including appeals related to state natural gas procurement, statewide radio services, airport maintenance service, and crisis behavioral health services

Transportation

  • Extensive legal and political experience on state and local transportation issues including highway construction and location, grant funding, buses, trains, and airports
  • Served for nearly 15 years as the primary utility liaison to the MDOT/Utilities Task Force, actively participating in drafting regulations governing utility accommodation, highway opening, and right-of-way issues
  • Board member, Greater Portland Transit District (2002-05)
  • Chair of the Portland Jetport Master Planning Committee (2005-06)
  • Portland City Council Transportation Committee, Chair (2002-05)
  • Hosted two regional bus transit summits (2006, 2007)

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

  • Helped obtain the licensure of Maine's first methadone treatment clinic in 1994, which included a successful Superior Court appeal to overturn an agency decision denying licensure
  • Advise several clinics with regard to permitting and operations in Maine including highly contested rulemakings, legal disputes, and legislation related to methadone treatment and Medicaid reimbursement
  • Oversaw a successful multiyear public and government relations campaign on behalf of a coalition of Opioid Treatment Programs in Maine to increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for methadone treatment
  • Assist OTP’s with regard to establishing site locations, including assistance with zoning approvals and local government relations

Alternative Dispute Resolution

  • Certified mediator and listed on the rosters of the Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (CADRES), and the Maine Human Rights Commission
  • Mediator with the Maine Judicial Branch, Foreclosure Diversion Program (2011-14)
  • Maine Association of Mediators, Board of Governors (2008-2010), Member (2007-2019)
  • Maine State Bar Association, ADR Section, Member (2009-present)
  • Facilitated hundreds of public meetings and stakeholder groups as a public official, plus planned and hosted several policy summits, and spearheaded the formation of the Creative Portland Corporation, the Metro Regional Coalition, the Civic Center Joint Task Force, and the Greater Portland Economic Development Corporation
  • Participated in stakeholder group that developed evidentiary rules related to confidentiality in mediation sessions

Firm Highlights

Blog

MPUC Issues Order Setting Forth “Discrete Electric Generating Facilities” Safe Harbor

Today, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) issued an Advisory Ruling establishing a safe harbor for the determination whether a generation facility is a Discrete Electric Generating Facility for the purposes of qualifying for...

Matter

Energy: Acquisition of LDC

Verrill assisted with an investment fund with due diligence in regard to potential acquisition of a local gas distribution company. The scope of work included analysis of state regulatory environment for gas utilities and...

Publication/Podcast

Seminar Materials: Virtual Eggs & Issues - Reinventing Businesses During COVID-19

On June 10, Verrill partner Jim Cohen , current board president of the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce , moderated the Chamber’s monthly Eggs & Issues business forum -- which once again was held...

Matter

Energy: Maine's First Private Natural Gas Pipeline

Assisted a large pulp mill secure legislation to authorize building a private natural gas pipeline that tapped into the Maritimes interstate pipeline to lower the mill's energy costs. To meet the client's schedule, we...

News

Maine's 'Thoughtful' and 'Aggressive' Response to COVID-19

On Wednesday, April 8, the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce had its first ever virtual Eggs & Issues, moderated by Jim Cohen, volunteer board president of the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce and Verrill...

Matter

Energy: Utility Ownership of Generation

We opposed legislation on behalf of Emera that would have prohibited affiliates of Maine T&D utilities from owning electric generation facilities in the state. Had the bill passed, Emera would not have been able...

Blog

MPUC Adopts Safe Harbor for Determination of “Discrete Electric Generating Facilities,” a Qualification for Net Energy Billing and Distributed Generation Programs

Yesterday, all three Maine Public Utilities Commission Commissioners agreed to adopt a new standard for the determination of what facilities qualify as “discrete electric generating facilities” under the MPUC’s Distributed Generation and Net Energy...

Blog

Financial Institutions . . . In the News

The July 2020 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report was released. ( DS News 8.27.2020) Federal Chairman Jerome Powell shows a plan to bolster the economy for the long-term. ( The Hill 8.26.2020) A May report...

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...

News

Nearly 80 Verrill Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers® 2021, Including a Dozen Named Lawyers of the Year

(August 24, 2020) – Nearly 80 Verrill attorneys were recognized as "Best Lawyers" by Best Lawyers® 2021 , including 12 attorneys named “Lawyer of the Year,” a distinguished recognition for only a single lawyer...