James I. Cohen

T: (207) 253-4708
  • Columbia University School of Law (J.D., 1991)
  • Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (A.B., 1987), cum laude
  • University of Southern Maine (Certificate Program in Mediation, 2007)

Highlights

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"[Jim] has the relationships that allowed me and my company to have a fair hearing on the issues. He knows his way around the halls in the capitol and knows all the players. He is extremely effective."
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AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
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Ranked in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business
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Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2018.
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Selected for inclusion in the 2017 issue of Super Lawyers & Rising Stars©.
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Biography

Based on a broad perspective gained through years of experience as a regulatory lawyer, mediator, and elected official, Jim combines legal, public policy, networking and facilitation strategies to help clients achieve their goals – whether in legal disputes; before government agencies; in business deals; or in the halls of the Legislature.

Jim focuses his practice in the areas of banking and financial services, public utility regulation, government and public relations, and alternative dispute resolution. Within these fields, he has helped craft or modify laws and regulations, represented clients in adjudicatory proceedings before government agencies and the courts, assisted clients in complex business transactions, facilitated stakeholder groups, and provided a wide range of legal and public policy advice.

Jim’s experience in public service, including his service as Mayor of Portland and leadership positions on multiple business and non-profit boards, provides Jim with a deep understanding of government and a broad range of connections within Maine’s business and political community.

Jim’s unique background allows him to provide clients not only insightful legal advice, but also creative solutions involving public relations, facilitation, and outreach to key government, business, and community leaders.

PRACTICE AREAS

Banking and Financial Services - Jim regularly provides regulatory and transactional advice to banks and financial institutions with regard to State and federal banking and consumer credit laws. Jim’s experience includes assisting financial institutions obtain new charters and approvals to do business; developing new agreements and processes for deposit accounts, lending products, or electronic banking; and responding to crises ranging from security breaches, criminal activity, and disputes over account access. Jim chairs the firm’s Banking & Financial Services Group and is former chair of the Consumer and Financial Institutions Section of the Maine Bar Association.

Public Utility Regulation

  • Telecommunications - Jim advises a wide range of telecommunications providers on matters before the Maine PUC, the Maine Legislature, and other government agencies. He has advised telecommunications providers on matters related to the provision of mobile telecommunications services; establishment of a CLEC; approval of a dark fiber provider; government procurement; service territory expansion; tower siting; universal service; eligible telecommunications carrier rules; tax policy; and the provision of broadband services. He has participated in multiple telecommunications rulemakings, adjudications, and legislative proceedings related to public utility regulation, telecommunications policy, telemarketing, and radio services. Jim chairs the firm's Telecommunications Group and is a member of the Steering Committee of Federal Communications Bar Association, New England Chapter.
  • Energy - Jim assists investor and consumer-owned transmission and distribution utilities in transactions and regulatory proceedings ranging from rate setting, to rate design, to purchase power and special rate agreements, to mergers and acquisitions, to rulemakings and customer complaints, to Commission audits and investigations. He has also advised natural gas utilities, wood pellet heat providers, and energy aggregators on a wide range of state regulatory and legislative matters. Jim has been involved in the drafting and adoption of nearly every major piece of energy legislation adopted in Maine since 1995, including the 1997 restructuring of Maine’s electric industry. Jim serves on the Energy and Environment Committee of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.
  • Water and Wastewater - Jim has represented numerous municipal and consumer-owned water systems in transactions, rulemakings, and litigated proceedings before the Maine PUC, including main extensions, mergers and acquisitions, local governance, regional cooperation, eminent domain, rate setting, rate design, right-of-way, customer complaints, and Commission investigations. He provides regulatory and legislative services to a statewide association of water utilities, and he helped form Maine's first regional non-profit organization for water utilities. In 2008, Jim was recognized by the Maine Drinking Water Commission for helping secure passage of a statewide bond issue for water and wastewater projects.

Government and Public Relations – Jim is a seasoned government relations professional and serves as a director of Maine Street Solutions, Verrill Dana’s government relations arm. Jim concentrates his lobbying practice in the area public utility regulation, and he regularly assists clients with general business, banking, taxation, transportation, environmental and general legal issues. Jim was also the primary draftsperson of Maine’s current law governing state, county, and municipal spending. Jim has been recognized as one of the State’s top lobbyists by several rating organizations.

Alternative Dispute Resolution - Jim is a certified mediator and is on the rosters of the Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (CADRES), the Foreclosure Diversion Program, and the Maine Human Rights Commission. In 2010, Jim participated in a group that developed evidentiary rules related to confidentiality in mediation sessions. As a former public official, Jim facilitated hundreds of public meetings and stakeholder groups, planned and hosted several policy summits, and spearheaded the formation of the Creative Portland Corporation, the Metro Regional Coalition, the Civic Center Joint Task Force, and the Greater Portland Economic Development Corporation. Jim chairs Verrill Dana’s ADR group, and he is a member and former board member of the Maine Association of Mediators.

GENERAL REGULATORY PRACTICE

  • Municipal Law – In addition to Jim’s seven years of service as an elected official in Maine’s largest city, Jim has advised local governments, special purpose districts, and private businesses on issues, including procurement, right to know laws, land use, licensure, ordinance changes, finance and spending issues, and election issues. Jim’s municipal experience includes land use & development, transportation infrastructure, school construction & finance, and economic development.
  • Procurement – Jim has successfully represented numerous businesses seeking or maintaining government grants or contracts, including a $50 million statewide radio contract, a $25 million federal grant for a statewide middle-mile fiber network, a multi-million dollar contract for educational data collection, and a substantial contract for local airport services.
  • Transportation – Jim has extensive legal and political experience on a wide range of state and local transportation issues, including highway construction and location, grant funding, buses, trains, and airports. For nearly fifteen years, Jim served as the primary utility liaison to the MDOT/Utilities Task Force and actively participated in drafting regulations governing utility accommodation, highway opening, and right of way issues. As a former municipal official, Jim served on the board of the Greater Portland Transit District, chaired the Portland Jetport Master Planning Committee, served as the first-ever chair of the Portland City Council’s Transportation Committee, and spearheaded two regional bus transit summits.
  • Substance Abuse Treatment - Jim helped obtain the licensure of Maine’s first methadone treatment clinic in 1994, which included a successful Superior Court appeal to overturn an agency decision denying licensure. Subsequently, he has advised several clinics with regard to permitting and operations in Maine and he has participated in highly contested rulemakings, legal disputes, and legislation related to methadone treatment and Medicaid reimbursement. In addition to legal services, Jim has experience providing public relations services to clinics.

Public Service

Mayor, City of Portland (2005-06)
Portland City Council (2002-08)
Portland Charter Commission, Vice Chair (2009-10)
Portland Regional Chamber, Chair (2012-), Trustee (2008-), Vice President of 
    the Board (2017-)
Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Trustee (2009-)
Maine Public Spending Research Group, Trustee (2005-08)
U.S. Conference of Mayors, Community and Faith-Based Initiatives Task Force, 
    Vice Chair (2006)
Portland Trails, President (1997-98), Advisory Trustee (2002-)
Portland Symphony Orchestra, VP of Budget and Finance (1999-02)
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Memberships

Maine State Bar Association: Consumer and Financial Institutions Section, 
    Chair (1999-2000), Member (1996-)
Maine Association of Mediators, Board of Governors (2008-10), 
    Member (2007-)
Federal Communications Bar Association, New England Chapter, 
    Steering Committee Member 
Maine State Bar Association, ADR Section, Member (2009-)
Court Appointed Dispute Resolution Service, Roster of Mediators (2011-)

Education

  • Columbia University School of Law (J.D., 1991)
  • Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (A.B., 1987), cum laude
  • University of Southern Maine (Certificate Program in Mediation, 2007)

Bar Admissions

  • Maine, 1991

Court and Other Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, 1991

Honors

AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
Recognized in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business 
    under Energy & Natural Resources Law
Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© under Administrative / Regulatory 
    Law, Government Relations Practice
Selected by peers for inclusion in New England Super Lawyers© under 
    Utilities, Banking and Government Relations
Neal W. Allen Award for Leadership in the Public Sector (2009)
Ruth M. Shaper Memorial Award, Maine Public Health Association (2008)
PolitickerME.com Power List 2008
PolitikerME.com 2007 Lobbyists with Clout
Public Service for the Environment Award, Sierra Club, ME Chapter (2006)
Honor Roll, Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence (2006)
Kay Wagenecht-Harte Trailblazer Award, Portland Trails (2003)