James Monteleone Receives 2023 New Lawyer Award from the Maine Justice Foundation
The Board of Directors of the Maine Justice Foundation unanimously voted for Bernstein Shur litigation attorney James Monteleone to be the recipient of the 2023 New Lawyer Award. The Maine Bar Journal featured a story about the award and James, shared below and linked here.
Established by the Foundation in 2010, the New Lawyer Award is presented annually to an outstanding lawyer who has been in practice for less than ten years, exemplifies the ideals of increasing access to justice, makes outstanding and recognized pro bono service or other contributions to the legal profession and public good, and demonstrates a strong commitment to the mission of the Foundation. The Board of Directors of the Maine Justice Foundation unanimously voted for attorney James Monteleone to be the recipient of the 2023 award. James was nominated by his colleagues in recognition of his work ensuring access to justice for low-income and vulnerable Mainers through case work with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maine, the Maine Homeless Legal Project, and the Ranked Choice Voting initiative.
Originally from Chicago, James has been living in Greater Portland with his family for over seven years. Before becoming a lawyer, James was an award-winning journalist covering government and politics. He had an opportunity to attend law school part-time while continuing his journalism work, but quickly found the puzzles that came from the practice of law far more engaging than political news reporting.
As an attorney, James is motivated to seek and help achieve fair outcomes. James says, “I try to take pro bono cases where there is a real risk that a critical need would go unanswered without legal support. The societal impact may be small, but for the individuals who are otherwise stuck, it is life changing.”
When asked how he feels about winning this award, James says, “I am very honored and humbled by the recognition. It is meaningful to be recognized by my peers who are also doing this work. I am honored to work at a firm that makes it a priority to do pro bono and public interest work as part of a broader litigation practice.”
James is a volunteer at the Maine Homeless Legal Project, a legal resource that provides Preble Street clients who have little or no income with access to volunteer attorneys who can answer legal questions, give legal advice, or suggest other legal resources. He is described by David Soley, the key contact at the MHLP and colleague of James’ at Bernstein Shur, as “one of the most valued volunteers we have.” When James is not working for access to justice or his busy litigation practice, he also volunteers on the Freeport Project Review Board and tries to get out on the water sailing as much as he can.