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Updated: January 14, 2020

In memory of colleague, Portland law firm launches scholarships at UMaine Law

Maine Law School building in Portland. File Photo / Renee Cordes A view of the University of Maine School of Law building in Portland.

Pierce Atwood on Monday unveiled a scholarship fund for University of Maine School of Law students, in honor of a longtime lawyer with the Portland firm who died in January 2019.

The Ralph I. Lancaster Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund aims to support the tradition of excellence in the practice of law by identifying highly qualified incoming first-year students with a demonstrated financial need, and providing them with financial support during each of their three years at Maine Law. 

A Pierce Atwood spokeswoman told Mainebiz by email that the firm has pledged $50,000 "over a period of time" to fund the scholarships. 

On its website, Maine Law lists the tuition charge for the 2019-20 school year as $23,190 for Maine residents and $34,680 for non-Maine residents. 

In a career that spanned nearly 60 years at Pierce Atwood, Lancaster built a reputation as one of the most respected trial lawyers in the country, according to the firm.

He was also recognized as an influential mentor to lawyers both inside and outside the firm.

Ralph Lancaster portrait photo
Courtesy / Pierce Atwood LLP
The late Ralph I. Lancaster Jr., a revered attorney who spent close to 60 years at Portland law firm Pierce Atwood LLP.

“Ralph Lancaster was an extraordinary lawyer and leader," said David E. Barry, Pierce Atwood's managing partner, in a news release. "With this scholarship, we look to honor Ralph’s legacy and commitment to Maine and excellence in the legal profession by helping to lower the barrier to the study of law for exceptional Maine Law students.” 

Dmitry Bam, interim dean of the school, said: “We are grateful to Pierce Atwood for its support of Maine Law and its commitment to improving access to legal education in Maine. Pierce Atwood's gift will help reduce the financial burden faced by Maine Law graduates and make legal education more affordable for our students.”

More information about the scholarship and applying to Maine Law can be found online, along with information about other scholarships and fellowship opportunities.

Pierce Atwood, ranked Maine's second-largest law firm in the 2020 Mainebiz Book of Lists, recently teamed up with fellow Portland firms Bernstein Shur and Verrill and with Maine Law to launch the Maine Diversity Summer Internship Program.

The program is set to kick off this summer, with two first-year students at each of the three firms.

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