Jim Erwin leads Pierce Atwood's Employment Group. He has extensive state and federal litigation experience in a wide range of substantive areas at the trial, appellate, administrative and arbitration levels. His practice involves the defense at agencies and in court of all types of employment claims, including discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower claims, restrictive covenant and trade secrets enforcement, wage-hour claims and class actions, defamation, and labor arbitrations.

Jim counsels employers on a wide range of workplace issue, conducts training sessions on harassment and other workplace issues, and performs investigations for employers. He also advocates for employers before the Maine State Legislature and administrative agencies on selected, important issues of public policy.

Jim obtained contempt findings and a fine against Local 14 of the United Paperworkers International Union for violence arising out of the strike at International Paper Company's Androscoggin Mill in 1987.

In 2007, Jim successfully led a coalition of employers and business associations before the Maine Legislature to obtain an amendment to the definition of disability under the Maine Human Rights Act.

Before joining Pierce Atwood Jim served for five years as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Maine. In that capacity he prosecuted homicides statewide and advised multiple state agencies on law enforcement matters.

In 1985, Jim was appointed by the governor to serve as a member of the Maine Human Rights Commission, Maine's Fair Employment Practice commission.

Honors & Distinctions

  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
  • Special Service Award, Maine Innkeepers Association, 2011
  • Named "Lawyer of the Year" in The Best Lawyers in America® in Portland, Maine for Employment Law in 2015 and 2016, and for Labor Law - Management in 2017
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® since 2003 
  • 2014 Corporate Intl Magazine Global Award: Employment Litigation Attorney of the Year in Maine
  • Listed in Chambers USA for Employment Law

Professional Activities

  • Vice Chair, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce Board, 2014
    • Member, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce Board, 2008-2014
  • Member, U. S. Chamber of Commerce Labor Relations Committee, 2007-2011
  • Member, American Bar Association Litigation Section, Labor Relations Committee (former Chair, Ethics and Professionalism Subcommittee)
  • Commissioner, Maine Human Rights Commission, 1985-87


ABA Model Jury Instructions, Chapter on Equal Pay Act

Op-ed on proposal to mandate paid sick leave, Maine Sunday Telegram, 2010

Op-ed on amendment to Maine Human Rights Act definition of disability, Portland Press Herald, 2007

Civic Activities

Chair, University of Maine System Board of Trustees, 2012-present

Member, Pine Tree Council Executive Board, 2014-present

Chair, Seeds of Peace Maine Steering Committee, 2013-present

Boy Scouts of America


Practice Areas

Representative Experience

  • Defense of multi-plaintiff and class action wage-hour cases
  • Defense of Federal False Claims Act and Whistleblower claims in U.S. District Court for hospital
  • Defense of employment-related claims arising out of termination by hospital in receivership
  • Defense of age and disability discrimination claims arising out of hospital IT reorganization
  • Arbitration of labor disputes involving discharges, health benefits and clocking for hospital clients