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August 9, 2023

Charles Miller, 75, remembered for his leadership at Bernstein Shur and in the community

Photo / Tim Greenway Charles Miller joined Bernstein Shur in 1979, rose to become the firm’s managing partner and then served as CEO from 2003 to 2013.

Charles Miller, former CEO of Portland law firm Bernstein Shur, community leader, social justice advocate and pillar of Maine's Jewish community, died on Friday at age 75. 

Miller joined Bernstein Shur in 1979, rose to become the firm’s managing partner and then served as CEO from 2003 to 2013. He continued to practice real estate and business law until his death. He was recognized by legal guides Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers, and rated with a high "AV" certification by Martindale-Hubbell.

Miller volunteered his time and expertise to Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Friends of Pine Tree Legal Assistance, the Muskie Fund for Legal Justice, and Hope Acts, among other nonprofits. In 2009, Miller and his wife Ellie were jointly awarded the Edmund S. Muskie “Access to Justice” Award. Miller also created Bernstein Shur's first diversity committee in that year.

According to his obituary, Miller was described as a larger-than-life figure with a tremendous personal presence, a searching and seeking intelligence, and a generous spirit.

"He was a devoted and supportive husband, father, grandfather, brother, mentor, and friend," his obituary said. "He spread happiness to his family and everyone surrounding him. He was an accomplished and well-respected attorney, a strong advocate for justice and a leader."

Religious faith was very important to Miller. He served as the president of Temple Beth El and the Jewish Community Alliance and as the vice chair of Southern Maine Hillel, among many other roles. With his wife, Ellie, Miller taught high school students at a Hebrew school and taught music to younger students at Temple Beth El.

His love for his community included volunteer service at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, where he served as chairman of the board from 2016-19 and continued to serve as a director at the time of his death. He also served on the board of visitors for the University of Maine School of Law, the American Bar Association, the Maine Bar Association and the Cumberland County Bar Association.

In 2013, he earned Husson University’s Chesley H. Husson Sr. Award for dedication to higher education and to Maine.

Miller was born on Sept. 25, 1947, in New Haven, Conn. He graduated from Colby College in 1969 and earned his master’s degree in education from the University of Maine in 1973. 

Miller then spent seven years as a school teacher, guidance counselor and debate coach at Lawrence High School in Fairfield. During his teaching career, he created and coached a state-champion debate team, with several of his students earning full-tuition scholarships to college.

In 1979, he graduated from the University of Maine School of Law, where he was the managing editor of the law review.

In addition to his wife of almost 55 years, he is survived by a son, Marc Miller; his daughters Elizabeth Cleek and Amanda Miller-Burg: a brother, Michael Miller, and sister-in-law Sandi Bartel; and many other family and friends. 

In lieu of flowers donations can be made in memory of Charles Miller to any of the following: Temple Beth El, the Jewish Community Alliance, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Pine Tree Legal Assistance or Hope Acts.

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