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April 16, 2019

Joan Fortin to succeed Pat Scully as Bernstein Shur's CEO

Joan Fortin Photo/ Tim Greenway Joan Fortin, shareholder, board member and director of attorney recruiting at Bernstein Shur in the Portland office, Maine’s largest law firm as its first female CEO starting Jan. 1, 2020. She will succeed Pat Scully upon his retirement.

Joan Fortin, director of attorney recruiting at Bernstein Shur, will lead Maine’s largest law firm as its first female CEO starting Jan. 1, 2020. She will succeed Pat Scully upon his retirement.

“I’m deeply honored to be selected as the future steward of this firm, and I look forward to building on our firm’s long legacy of service,” Fortin said in a news release emailed to Mainebiz on Monday. “Our focus will continue to be on service to our clients, our communities and to each other — our attorneys and staff and their families.”

The announcement comes after the firm’s equity shareholders elected Fortin as CEO last week.

“Joan was the most qualified candidate for the position,” said Scully in the news release. “The fact that she is our first woman CEO is a bonus. It’s an exciting development for our firm.” Fortin, a 2018 Mainebiz Woman to Watch, has also been recognized in Best Lawyers in America for municipal law, and in 2013 Best Lawyers named her “Lawyer of the Year” for municipal law in Portland.

Scully and Fortin have worked together in strategic roles on Bernstein Shur’s board of directors for over a decade. They will continue to work in their current position through the end of this year to ensure a smooth transition.

Scully, who chairs Bernstein Shur’s energy practice group is retiring after spending his entire career at Bernstein Shur, where he worked as a summer associate 35 years ago while studying at the University of Maine School of Law.

In a 2017 “On the Record” interview with Mainebiz, Scully highlighted Bernstein Shur’s progressive policies to support and advance women, including a strong parental leave policy.

“Pat has been and will continue to be a remarkable leader for the remainder of his tenure,” Fortin said in the news release. “Under his leadership, the firm has enacted industry-leading policies like our parental leave policy, which provides 16 weeks of paid leave for all of our attorneys and staff regardless of gender.”

She also said that the firm grown client demand and revenue under Scully’s leadership, and as a result, the number of attorneys. “We are deeply grateful to Pat for his leadership, kindness and humility during his six years as CEO and his 36 years with the firm.”

Fortin, a  member of the Maine State Bar since 1996, specializes in land use, municipal law and tax increment financing. She joined Bernstein Shur’s board of directors in 2008. As director of attorney recruiting and retention, she has hired nearly half of the firm’s 120 attorneys. Inside and outside the firm, she’s regarded as a champion for women, diversity and inclusion and a mentor who’s always generous with her time and sound advice.

Fortin earned her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston after receiving a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Maine and a bachelor’s degree from Colby College in Waterville. She grew up near Waterville on a dairy farm in Benton.

Her community service includes chairing the American Heart Association’s 2019 Go Red Luncheon, volunteering her time with the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, serving as a member of the Lex Mundi Women’s Initiative recruitment and retention task force, and frequently speaking on topics including diversion, inclusion and women in the workplace.

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