Public Service

Community Service

Portland Regional Chamber, Chair (2012-14) Trustee (2008-16; 2019- present)
Portland Community Chamber of Commerce, President (2019- ) Trustee (2016-present)
Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Trustee (2009 - present)
Project Green Schools, Advisory Trustee (2017-present)
Maine Public Spending Research Group, Trustee (2005 - 2008)
Portland Trails, President (1997-1998), Advisory Trustee (2002 - )
Portland Symphony Orchestra, VP of Budget and Finance (1999-2002)
Communities Putting Prevention to Work (ARRA), Leadership Council (2010-11)
North Deering Neighborhood Assoc., Founding Pres. (2001), Trustee (2002-2013)
Portland Public Library, Trustee (2005-2006)
Sweetser, Corporator (2007-present)
First Tee, Board member (2008-10)
Portland Tomorrow (2010-2019)

Political Service

Mayor, City of Portland (2005-2006)
Portland City Council (2002-2008)
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)
Maine Turnpike Authority, Public Advisory Committee (2017-18)
Portland Charter Commission, Vice Chair (2009-2010)
U.S. Conference of Mayors, Community and Faith-Based Initiatives Task Force, Vice Chair (2006)
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)
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)
Portland School Department, Budget and Revenue Task Force, Chair (2013-4)

Experience

Creative Economy

As a City Councilor, Mayor of Portland and member of the Portland Regional Chamber, Jim Cohen has supported the "Creative Economy" of the Greater Portland area. Jim convened a local summit and multiple stakeholder groups in an effort to strengthen this local, knowledge-based economy.

The entries below highlight Jim's efforts to support Portland's Creative Economy.

About the Creative Economy:

Pro-bono government relations services to state-wide cultural institutions:

Jim delivered presentations about gaining advocacy before the Maine Legislature to the Maine Library Association, Maine Humanities Council and Maine Historical Society.

Healthy Portland Initiative

As a public servant, Jim Cohen established a task force that developed recommendations to improve public health in Portland.

The entries below highlight Jim's and the task force's efforts to promote healthy lifestyles in Portland:

  • The task force formalized a bike rack policy that led to a rapid growth in number of bike racks through the city, and a new ordinance requiring bike parking on certain new construction.
  • It developed a plan to provide water fountains in each school cafeteria within the City.
  • It established a "Walk and Talk with the Mayor' program to promote transparent government and healthy lifestyles.
  • The task force developed a plan for a new city ordinance banning smoking in outdoor cafes, which Portland passed, becoming the first community in Maine to adopt such a law. A year later, the State of Maine adopted a similar law statewide.
  • In 2008, Jim received the Ruth Shaper Award from the Maine Public Health Association for his efforts related to public health, particularly with regard to the smoking law.

Jim currently serves on the steering committee of the City's Communities Putting Prevention to Work program, which was an ARRA funded public health initiative.

Metro Regional Coalition

Jim led an effort to form a six-community coalition aimed at promoting regional projects. The Metro Regional Coalition is the group that resulted from those efforts.

The entries below highlight the accomplishments of the Metro Regional Coalition.

Creation of Regional Crime Lab in Portland:

Formation of a Regional Economic Development Corporation:

After years of planning the Greater Portland Economic Development Corporation was formed.

Portland School Budget

Jim Cohen helped establish a partnership with the Portland Public Schools to improve the school budget process.

The entries below highlight Jim's efforts to improve school budgeting:

  • Jim served as a trustee of the Maine Public Spending Research Group, and as part of his service, focused on ways that school systems could become more efficient. Jim delivered a presentation to GrowSmart on this topic.
  • He served as the primary drafts person of the Maine Plan in 2004, a citizen initiative aimed at establishing spending limits at all levels of government. Jim helped form a coalition between business leaders and municipal government officials which ultimately led the Maine Legislature in 2005 to adopt many of the elements of the plan as part of LD 1. Jim spoke about the Maine Plan at a 2005 Maine Water Utilities Association Meeting.
  • In 2006-7, Jim became the chair of the City's finance committee. During his tenure, he facilitated extensive public discussion regarding the proposed school budget, the largest in the City's history. During the process, Jim worked to improve the relationship between the City Finance Committee and the School Finance Committee to better evaluate the school budget.
    -Jim addresses school budget issues, among other topics, in an interview with The League of young Voters.
    -Upon deciding to leave the City Council, Jim's accomplishments as a member of the Finance Committee were reviewed by the Portland Press Herald.
  • In 2007, the public discovered that the School Budget was inaccurate, leading to the resignation of the Superintendent and Finance Director. Jim worked with the School Finance Committee to develop a memorandum of understanding to improve the meetings , information gathering and relationship between the City Council and School Committee. This led to a collaborative budget in 2008 that helped restore public trust in the school system.

In 2009-10, Jim served on the Portland Charter Commission, and helped draft and get passed changes to the City's charter that formalized the process established by the memorandum of understanding. These changes were approved by the voters in November 2010.

Regional Economic Development

During his time as Mayor of Portland, Jim Cohen facilitated a multi-party stakeholder group of municipalities, colleges, and businesses to form a regional economic development corporation. Jim continues to support regional economic development as vice-chair of the Portland Regional Chamber.

The following entries provide more information about Jim Cohen's regional economic development efforts:

Regional Economic Development Stakeholder Facilitation:

Regional Economic Development Initiatives:

Jim Cohen appeared in a TV ad on behalf of the Civic Center Bond Campaign. The bond initiative was eventually passed by voters with 58% of the vote.

Sustainable Portland

During Jim's time as Mayor and City Councilor in Portland he made sustainability a priority. He spearheaded the City's effort to promote economic, environmental and community sustainability.

The entries below highlight Jim Cohen's sustainability work as a public servant:

  • Prior to joining the City Council, Jim was active in forming The North Deering Neighborhood Association, and served as the president of Portland Trails. Based on this background, Jim set out as Mayor to help develop a formal approach to sustainability called Sustainable Portland.
  • Jim Cohen discussed his plans to create a Sustainable Portland Task Force in his Mayor's Inaugural Address.
  • Jim convened a stakeholder group, and served on it for a year. In 2007, the group developed a report that addresses Portland's environmental, economic and community needs which became part of the City's comprehensive plan in 2010. The group also developed a website and logo for Sustainable Portland.
  • In 2006, Jim became the first mayor to sign onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Action Plan. Jim was recognized by the Sierra Club for this effort.

Sustainable Portland included many recommendations, including a plan for the City to invest in municipal buildings to lower energy costs. In 2008, Jim served on the City Council's energy and Environmental Committee which started this process.

Firm Highlights

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...

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...

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...

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...

Blog

Maine Public Utilities Commission Invites Net Energy Billing Report Comments

Yesterday, the Maine Public Utilities Commission issued a request for comments related to the MPUC’s Net Energy Billing Report to the Legislature. The Commission broadly invited any interested person to submit information or comments...

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...

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...

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...