No element of legal practice is more important than service to families. That belief is the foundation of my career as a lawyer.

The happiness and harmony of every highly functioning family depends on its ability to enhance the lives of its members in two important ways. First, such a family constitutes a community bound not just by blood or marriage, but by common values that encourage each of its members to be productive in work, education, and service to each other and to the family's community. In that respect, such a family provides a sense of purpose and direction to its members.

Second, such a family functions to develop the unique talents and aspirations of each of its members, and engenders respect for the differences in its members' capabilities and goals.

A lawyer who is well-trained and motivated by a desire to serve families can be their most important and trusted adviser. That lawyer's role might involve discrete functions, such as the establishment of a family council, a family foundation, or a family "bank" to help finance its members' new ventures. More important, however, that lawyer's role may be long-term, serving as counsel to a family business or as one of the trustees for the family wealth.

Particularly when serving as trustee or as an adviser to the family's trustees and to its business and wealth advisers, the most important role a lawyer can play is as a mentor to younger-generation family members, helping them understand the obligations and benefits of membership in the family, and facilitating each member's efforts to identify and develop his or her own talents, aspirations, and sense of self-worth.

These are the goals to which Michael's law practice is dedicated. Michael has more than 40 years of experience advising clients on all aspects of wealth management, including tax-efficient transfer of wealth, creation of family-controlled structures for long-term financial management and disposition of family assets, risk management, and implementation and oversight of family philanthropic endeavors. Michael represents high-net-worth clients and their families in the full range of their wealth management needs. He provides trusted counsel to venture capitalists, investment bankers, founders of significant private firms, senior officers of publicly owned companies, real estate developers, key executives of pre-IPO and other emerging firms, and families with significant accumulated capital.

In his trust and estate practice, Michael has extensive experience coordinating estate and tax planning for wealthy individuals.

Michael has been quoted on estate and tax planning and philanthropy in The Wall Street Journal, Time, Forbes, Financial Planning, U.S. Trust Company of New York's Business Advisor, Family Business Magazine, The Boston Business Journal, and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, as well as on National Public Radio.

Representative Engagements

  • Negotiated with the IRS on terms of a private letter ruling to ensure the most favorable tax treatment of donor's multibillion-dollar philanthropic gift to a major U.S. public charity
  • Structured and implemented plans—affecting hundreds of millions of dollars each—for public- and private-company CEOs to benefit both family members and philanthropic interests
  • Coordinated tax and wealth management strategies for multiple generations of several client families to benefit future generations for decades to come
  • Strategically planned early, tax-efficient transfer of stock to children and grandchildren for key investors and executives at emerging technology companies, well before any eventual IPO or similar transaction
  • Enhanced the development program of a national nonprofit organization on a pro bono basis, including advising on sophisticated planned giving opportunities for members
  • Implemented strategic solutions for executors of numerous significant estates, dealing with difficult issues relating to valuation, management, and disposition of interests in significant closely held businesses, resolution of a wide array of tax-planning problems and opportunities, and discharge of fiduciary duties



  • Harvard Law School  (J.D.)
  • Oxford University
    • Rotary Foundation Fellow
  • Dartmouth College  (B.A., summa cum laude)
    • Phi Beta Kappa

Public Service

  • Chairman of the Board, Professional Advisors Committee, The Boston Foundation
  • Overseer, Catholic Student Center, Dartmouth
  • Member, Executive Committee, Dartmouth College Alumni Council
  • Secretary, Dartmouth Educational Association
  • Secretary, Dartmouth Alumni Association of Eastern Massachusetts

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts


  • Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel; Member, Charitable Planning Committee
  • Member, Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises
  • Member, Corporation of Partners HealthCare


  • Recognized by Worth magazine as one of the nation's "Top 100 Attorneys"
  • Received Boston Magazine's FIVE STAR Wealth Manager Award
  • AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© for Trusts & Estates in Boston, Massachusetts (since 1995)
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in Massachusetts Super Lawyers© under Estate Planning & Probate (since 2004)

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

Court and Other Admissions

  • U.S. Tax Court

Firm Highlights


Available Take-Home Methadone Doses for Patients

Attorney Jim Cohen was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article, "Methadone restrictions relaxed during pandemic, but not for everyone." The article describes the recent relaxed federal restrictions for the drug, due to the...


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...


Commercial Co-Ventures: What You Need to Know During a Pandemic


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...


Financial Institutions . . . In the News

Hundreds of business owners filing federal aid applications with lenders. ( Portland Press Herald 4.6.2020) Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw cautions to be careful of scammers. ( Central Maine 4.6.2020) New Dimensions Federal Credit...


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...


Should Health Care Employers Prepare for COVID-19 As A Work-Related Injury?

While we know that everyone is being bombarded with COVID-19 recommendations, advice, news, and data, another important issue to manage in the workplace is the possibility of COVID-19 infection, if acquired at work and...


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...


Executive Order Temporarily Modifies Requirements for In-Person Notarization and Acknowledgement in Maine

On April 8, 2020, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order titled “An Order Temporarily Modifying Certain In-Person Notarization and Acknowledgement Requirements.” The purpose of this Order is to enable citizens to execute...


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...