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September 18, 2017 On the record

Keeping pace with the changing legal landscape

Patrick J. Scully has spent his entire career at Portland law firm Bernstein Shur, where he worked as a summer associate more than 30 years ago while studying at the University of Maine School of Law. He has been CEO since January 2014.

During an interview in his office filled with family photos and a few posters of the next play he's performing in, he chatted about the firm's new all-in-one cybersecurity service and his long-term vision.

Mainebiz: Why now for cybersecurity?

Pat Scully: It's something we're really excited about. I think it's very unique. There is a client need for both the legal component and the technical component, and to be able to package the two creates a real opportunity to help a lot of companies, especially smaller companies that just don't have the resources.

MB: What law practice areas are growing the most?

PS: We've had a lot of growth in energy, which is really important in this part of the country. More recently, we've had a growing food and beverage team. In southern Maine in particular, the whole sector has taken off.

MB: Would you say your firm is at the forefront of women's professional advancement?

PS: I think we absolutely are. We have adopted some very progressive policies to support and advance women, including a strong parental leave policy. More importantly, it's working very hard with our women professionals to make sure that some of the obstacles that can arise aren't preventing career advancement.

MB: Do you also have a diversity committee?

PS: We do, and that committee is focused not just on gender diversity, but every kind of diversity, and making sure that the firm is doing what we can to attract and maintain and retain as diverse a workforce as we can.

MB: Have you achieved that or is there more to do?

PS: There is always something you can do more. We have a reasonable amount of racial diversity, but Maine is a very white state, and so you really have to work at it. Things like what [Dean] Danielle Conway is doing at the University of Maine School of Law are really important, to try to actively bring more diverse professionals into the legal market.

MB: Were you always interested in law?

PS: When I was in college I was very interested in environmental policy, and I was convinced by a number of people that if you want to be effective in environmental policy, having a legal degree would be helpful. I entered into law school with the idea that I was going to probably end up in Washington, D.C., working for a nonprofit. But I went to law school in Portland, which caused me to fall in love with Portland, and I had a summer job here, which exposed me to what practicing law really looks like. I also fell in love with this law firm. The culture of this place is very unique, and it was a place that made me feel very welcome. This is a firm that supports diversity, not just in the traditional sense, but different kinds of personalities.

MB: How did this year's summer associates do?

PS: We haven't yet completed the evaluation and hiring process out of it, but they did very well, and we will extending offers shortly. When we interview law students for our summer program, what we're really looking for is someone who is ultimately going to become a partner.

MB: What's your long-term vision for the firm?

PS: We are rapidly becoming and will become the best law firm in New England. What that means to me is excellent legal service in certain core areas. We want to be able to represent clients all over the country to a greater and greater extent, and to provide the highest level of quality of client service. We're well on our way towards realizing that.

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