Maine Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project Celebrates Longstanding Pro Bono Partnership with Bernstein Shur


Maine Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project Celebrates Longstanding Pro Bono Partnership with Bernstein Shur

Of Counsel attorney Arnold “Arnie” C. Macdonald honored as ILAP Volunteer of the Year for second time

PORTLAND, Maine (April 30, 2024) – At its Spring 2024  Volunteer & Partner Appreciation night held April 24, 2024, the Maine Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) reaffirmed the strength and impact of its longstanding pro bono partnership with Bernstein Shur by naming Of Counsel attorney Arnold “Arnie” C. Macdonald Attorney of the Year for a second time. Macdonald was previously named ILAP Attorney of the Year in 2020, and many Bernstein Shur attorneys have been recognized for their pro bono service to ILAP since the nonprofit organization was founded in 1993.

As Maine’s only statewide immigration legal services organization, the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) advances justice and equity for immigrants and their families through direct legal services, community education, and systemic advocacy. ILAP’s services help thousands of immigrants find safety from violence and persecution, keep their families together, and fully participate in their communities and the economy.

For decades, Bernstein Shur attorneys have stood shoulder to shoulder with individuals facing the labyrinth of immigration law in their effort to build a better life for themselves and their families in the United States. In 2023, Bernstein Shur attorneys dedicated more than 2,900 pro bono hours each year to charitable services, providing legal services worth more than $900,000.

“Our partnership with ILAP was founded on our shared belief in access to justice for all, which is rooted in Bernstein Shur’s history,” said CEO Joan Fortin. “Our founding attorney, Israel Bernstein, was the son of immigrants. He was smart, driven, determined, and, most of all, he was committed to strengthening his home community. Considering this history and our deep understanding of the justice system, we believe that we are all stronger when our courts are accessible, fair, and efficient for every person. And much like Israel Bernstein, we are willing to put in the work to make this a reality, and few have put in more of their personal and professional time and passion than Arnie Macdonald.”

Deeply committed to access to justice issues and pro bono work, Arnie Macdonald serves on the Board of Directors of ILAP and as chair of its Development Committee. Macdonald is a past President of the ME Justice Foundation, past member of the Board of Directors of ME Equal Justice Partners, and a former Chair of the Campaign for Justice.

Macdonald is a member of the firm’s Business, Real Estate, and Construction Practice Groups. In his practice, Macdonald provides counsel to small and mid-sized companies in business matters of all types, from formation issues and financing to succession planning and mergers and acquisitions. He resides in South Freeport, ME with his wife Liza, who shares his passion for equal access to justice.

“This recognition is a reflection of Bernstein Shur’s values, and the firm’s readiness to invest substantial time and resources to advocate for people who have fled their homes for their lives because of their belief in freedom, their gender, religion, or sexual orientation,” said Arnie Macdonald. “ILAP clients have been some of the most honest, spiritual, resilient, and hardworking people I have ever known. You must be, to endure torture at home and the hardship of the journey to the United States.  Once they get here, they need help navigating the U.S. immigration legal system. I am grateful to ILAP for this honor, and to my colleagues at Bernstein Shur for supporting my work and valuing this longstanding partnership with ILAP.”

About Bernstein Shur

Bernstein Shur Sawyer & Nelson is a New England-based law firm that advises clients across the U.S. and around the world. Our award-winning attorneys practice in more than 20 critical areas and a variety of industries. In 2023, Bernstein Shur was named one of Maine’s Best Places to Work for the twelfth time. To learn more, visit