Joan M. Fortin

Joan M. Fortin

Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, P.A.

Recognized since 2009

Portland, Maine

Practice Areas

Municipal Law

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Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2021 - Municipal Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2013 - Municipal Law
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In her role as CEO of Bernstein Shur, Joan works to ensure that the firm and its attorneys live by the firm’s strategic vision and core values. She empowers attorneys to serve clients with energy, empathy, precision, innovation, and with an eye to the future. To encourage Bernstein Shur attorneys to be creative and thoughtful practitioners, Joan consistently creates new opportunities for education and professional development so that they can effectively serve each unique client. Equally important, Joan recognizes the importance of life outside of work, and inspires attorneys and staff to find and pursue their personal passions. This critical balance makes for better lawyers and better legal outcomes for the firm’s clients.

During her more than 20 years at the firm, Joan has played a pivotal role in shaping Bernstein Shur’s culture and continued growth. Joan began as a summer associate in 1994, and has held various leadership positions in the firm, including: practice group leader, member of Bernstein Shur’s Board of Directors, Director of Attorney Recruiting and Retention, and founding member of the firm’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Throughout this time, Joan has not only honed her skills as a successful attorney handling complex legal matters, but she has also helped to shape the firm as it exists today.

Externally, Joan zealously represents Bernstein Shur in the community and at a wide variety of industry events. She forges meaningful and strategic partnerships with local and national organizations to uplift the communities in which Bernstein Shur employees live and work, leading the firm’s corporate social responsibility efforts in Maine, New Hampshire, and beyond. Joan is regularly invited to speak about current events and their impact on the legal profession, including discussions of ethics, equity in the legal workplace, the importance of female leadership, and embracing change.

Joan leads by example, lives Bernstein Shur’s core values, and reinforces the firm’s commitment to continual learning and entrepreneurship in the practice of law. Committed to practicing compassionate leadership, she works to encourage, guide, and fully support each attorney and staff member in their professional journey at Bernstein Shur.

  • West Tower
    100 Middle Street
    P.O. Box 9729
    Portland, ME 04104-5029
  • Northeastern University, JD, graduated 1996
  • University of Maine, EdM, graduated 1991
  • Colby College, BA, graduated 1988
Bar Admissions
  • Maine, States of Maine
  • Alaska, State of Alaska
  • Massachusetts, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Court Admissions
  • US District Court, District of Maine
  • US District Court, District of Alaska
  • US Court of Appeals, First and Ninth Circuits

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2021 - Municipal Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2013 - Municipal Law
Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers® for:
  • Municipal Law, Portland, ME (2021)
  • Municipal Law, Portland, ME (2013)
Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for work in:
  • Municipal Law
Additional Areas of Practice:
  • Economic Development Law
  • Government Relations Practice
  • Project Finance Law
  • Public Finance Law


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