Joan Fortin in the law library at Bernstein Shur. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographe

April 12, 2019: Bernstein Shur, Maine’s largest law firm, picks a female chief executive officer for the first time. Joan Fortin assumes her new duties in January 2020.

At the time of her selection, no woman holds the top job at Maine’s 15 largest law firms, according to a MaineBiz magazine annual survey. Bernstein Shur is the biggest firm when measured by the number of lawyers based in Maine.

Fortin grew up on a Benton dairy farm and went to Colby College. She earned a master’s degree in educational administration, then worked at Bowdoin College. Then she got a law degree at Northeastern University to broaden her skills in the educational field. However, her experience at Northeastern convinced her to become a practicing lawyer.

After several years at Bernstein Shur, she joined the board in 2008 and became director of attorney recruitment. She hired about half of the 120 attorneys who were working at the firm in the spring of 2019.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: [email protected]


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