George F. Burns George F. Burns

George F. Burns

Senior Counsel

Meet George, seasoned litigator, neutral business advisor, and music lover.

George F. Burns


207 228-7127 direct
207 774-1200 main
207 774-1127 facsimile

100 Middle Street
PO Box 9729
Portland, ME 04104-5029

  • The Best Lawyers in America® 2024
    Lawyer of the Year” – Litigation – Construction
  • The Best Lawyers in America® 2024
    Commercial Litigation
    Construction Law
    Corporate Law
    Litigation – Construction
    Timber Law
  • The Best Lawyers in America® 2021
    Lawyer of the Year” – Mediation
  • Fellow, Construction Lawyers Society of America
  • Portland, Maine Lawyer of the Year 2018 – Arbitration
  • AV Preeminent® – Martindale-Hubbell for over 25 years
  • Super Lawyers – construction law

Schedule an appointment with George
through the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals:


Here’s why you’ll enjoy working with him.

George is passionate about achieving the best practical result, but he tries not to lose sight of humor and humanity in the process. He has been practicing law for over four decades and focuses on litigating, arbitrating, and mediating business and construction disputes. His trial experience is extensive and multi-faceted, before juries and arbitrators alike throughout New England and New York, including numerous construction and design claims, some involving tens of millions of dollars;  products liability and toxic tort cases; and personal injury, tax, antitrust,  securities,  and partnership disputes.  A common thread is often a dispute over a contract of some kind, including claims and defenses under the Law of Sales, Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code.

Based on his wide variety of experience in business law George has become, in effect,  outside general counsel to several important American companies and trade associations.

George is a member of the Commercial Panel of the American Arbitration Association, and the Maine Supreme Court has appointed him as an arbitrator, mediator, and early neutral evaluator for its Court Alternative Dispute Service (CADRES). He’s also helped draft and enact legislation related to securities law and multiple defendant litigation, and has served on Maine’s Business and Consumer Docket Advisory Committee. George frequently shares his expertise in construction law and antitrust, as well as related areas such insurance and product liability, in lectures and seminars around the country, He is co-author with his partner Michael Bosse of the ABA book, Building the Construction Case: A Blueprint for Litigators (2014). George is also a board member of the Maine Chapter of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, a testament to his exceptional skills and experience in the area of conflict resolution.

Recently, with former Bankruptcy Judge Louis Kornreich, George co-founded Bernstein Shur’s CERT Group standing for Case Evaluation and Resolution Team.  Judge Kornreich and George have nearly 100 years of combined experience as trial lawyers, judges and neutrals of two former groups devoted to normal methods of dispute resolution outside of the normal court process or as referees were special masters within that process.

Below are subject matters where George served as neutral arbitrator/mediator:

  • Construction matters of all varieties
  • Engineering and architectural errors and omissions
  • Insurance coverage claims
  • Partnership disputes and business divorces
  • Family business conflict
  • Product liability class action matters
  • Law firm dissolution
  • State and federal insurance regulation
  • Antirust matters
  • Non-compete disputes
  • Commercial real estate disputes
  • Boat building disputes
  • Medical practice dissolution or break-ups

But that’s not all. George is also very experienced in:

  • Serving as trustee and counselor to family businesses, as well as providing family business mediation, which he offers in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Davidow
  • Risk management for forest products wholesalers and retailers
  • Representing clients in antitrust claims, as well as aiding in the creation and maintenance of antitrust compliance programs
  • The ins and outs of Article 2 (Sales) of the Uniform Commercial Code
  • Arbitrating, litigating, and mediating matters involving engineering errors and omissions, asbestos, product and boat builder’s liability, marketing contracts, and manufacturers’ representative payments

In his former life, George:

  • Founded his own law firm, Burns, Ray, DeLano & Macdonald, which merged with Bernstein Shur in 2001
  • Was at Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle (now Nixon Peabody) in Rochester, New York, specialized in commercial, corporate, and securities law

When George isn’t working, he is…

Active on various non-profit boards. George is past president of the Cumberland Club the Spurwink Institute, and the the Portland String Quartet Society.  Presently he is a Director of the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association.

George enjoys traveling with his wife Elizabeth, a retired trusts and estates attorney, and spending time with their five grandchildren. You might also find him on the tennis court or relaxing for a few minutes with his guitar.


JD, New York University, 1972
BS, International Affairs, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, 1969

Admitted to practice
States of Maine, New Hampshire, and New York
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Numerous Federal Court Admissions


Maine State Bar Association
American Bar Association
Cumberland County Bar Association
Maine Bar Foundation (Fellow)
American Arbitration Association (Commercial Panel)
National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, Maine Chapter
Construction Lawyers Society of America (Fellow)
Associated Builders and Contractors of NH & VT Education & Training Instructor
Diversity Law Institute
Trial Law Institute