Whether confronted with a complex commercial matter or a class action, Pierce Atwood's nationally-recognized litigation attorneys consistently get results for their clients in a practical and efficient manner.
Pierce Atwood's litigation lawyers have successfully litigated a broad variety of matters in state and federal trial and appellate courts and agencies, as well as a variety of alternative dispute resolution settings. Regardless of the type of case, the Litigation Group takes great pride in partnering with its clients to formulate and execute on the right approach to serve the client's needs in any given situation.
Areas of Expertise
Alternative Dispute Resolution
In today's litigation, clients are concerned about the time and expense needed to bring a case to final resolution through trial and appeal. More and more parties turn to alternative dispute resolution as a way to resolve their cases more quickly and efficiently. Pierce Atwood offers an unsurpassed level of expertise and service in all forms of ADR.
Our team includes a former Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, and a former President of the American College of Trial Lawyers who has served as Independent Counsel under President Clinton and as Counsel for the United States before the International Court of Justice. Our members have served as Special Masters appointed by the Supreme Court of the United States in cases falling within the Court's original jurisdiction. Our attorneys serve on panels of neutrals offered by AAA, CPR and AHLA.
In 2017, firm partner John Bulman was inducted into the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, an invitation-only organization limited to professional mediators and arbitrators who are well-established as trusted neutrals among the legal community within their state of practice.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Experience
A significant portion of Pierce Atwood's litigation practice focuses on appellate work. Our appellate work arises both when we are retained solely for the appeal and in cases we have first litigated before the trial court. Where we are involved from the outset, our goal is to think long-term, focusing not only on issues that may impact the strategy at trial, but also on the best ways to position the case for a future appeal.
We handle cases covering a range of issues involving areas of federal law and significant areas of state and commercial law. We often are asked to prepare amicus briefs on behalf of industry associations and coalitions. Our lawyers have made numerous oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court, the various United States Courts of Appeals across the country and before state Supreme Courts throughout New England. Included in our group is a former state Supreme Court Chief Justice who provides strategic analysis with an eye toward how briefs will be viewed from the other side of the bench.
Appellate Litigation Experience
Attorney Liability & Professional Conduct
Attorneys representing other attorneys: When lawyers need a lawyer, their choice of representation says a lot about the firm they select.
When another large law firm in Portland recently needed counsel to defend a high-profile legal malpractice lawsuit against it, they turned to Pierce Atwood. On many occasions, lawyers at Pierce Atwood have helped lawyers at other firms, big and small, to defend against allegations of professional negligence, breaches of fiduciary duty, and violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Pierce Atwood provides this assistance both in court and before administrative bodies regulating lawyers such as the Board of Bar Overseers.
Handling such matters requires discretion as well as skill. Pierce Atwood lawyers provide tactful representation, aggressive advocacy, and the experience and judgment to know when to employ each effectively to attain positive results for our clients.
Class actions remain one of the most powerful tools used by plaintiffs' counsel. In appropriate cases, a class action may afford a legitimate opportunity for injured plaintiffs to obtain class-wide relief. In other cases, however, the threat of a class action is used primarily to force a settlement from wary businesses. When this threat arises, Pierce Atwood assists its clients nationwide in vigorously challenging the propriety of class certification. In the past several years alone, we have successfully defeated class actions in Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Minnesota. The ABA Section of Litigation regularly asks one of our partners to author the Maine Section of its Fifty State Survey of Class Action Law, and another partner was a member of the American Law Institute working group to draft the ALI's Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation.
Pierce Atwood attorneys also maintain a class action blog, First Class Defense, that focuses on decisions of the state and federal courts within the boundaries of the First Circuit.
In 2017, Pierce Atwood's Class Actions team received a National Tier 1 ranking by US News-Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" report. According to Best Lawyers, achieving a tiered ranking signals a "unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise."
Class Actions Experience
In today's increasingly complex world, it is no surprise that business disputes are becoming more complex as well. Our commercial trial lawyers have the skill and confidence to seize the initiative, control the litigation agenda and efficiently and effectively obtain results for our clients, whether in federal or state courts around the country, before government agencies in regulatory and administrative litigation, or in private arbitrations.
Whether representing Fortune 500 companies or medium and small size business clients, we take pride in the fact that we provide all of our clients the same vigorous representation and degree of service and attention. We understand and respect our clients' budgets and deadlines, communicate frequently with our clients during litigation, and ensure that our clients are fully advised of the progress of their cases. Most importantly, we take the time to get to know our clients' businesses so that we can provide the best overall advice.
We keep up with changing technologies and are experts in electronic discovery. We routinely use in-house automated litigation support tools that allow our lawyers to give our clients better, more efficient and cost-effective representation.
Commercial Litigation Experience
Construction & Surety Litigation
No matter the size, few construction projects are completed on time and without a hitch. Pierce Atwood has decades of experience representing general contractors, owners, subcontractors and suppliers to help address and resolve a wide range of problems in order to get projects back on track.
Our construction litigation experience covers all aspects of the construction process, including:
- Pre-construction issues, including advice on drafting and interpretation of construction agreement
- Mid-stream informal dispute resolution and problem solving
- Post-construction claims litigation, including hearings before arbitrators and mediators
Our surety litigation experience is equally broad, and encompasses:
- Advice on contract, surety bonds, and general agreements of indemnity
- Prosecution and defense of fidelity, surety, and indemnity claims
Employee Benefits Litigation
Today's employers, employee benefit plan sponsors, insurers and other fiduciaries face a complex and frequently evolving array of claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and state law. Our lawyers are actively involved in the leading industry groups, including the ABA and DRI Life, Health and Disability Committee, and stay abreast of implementing regulations, enforcement, and legal developments in order to provide the best advice to our clients. Equally important, we maintain a successful benefits litigation practice with multi-jurisdictional expertise, appearing on behalf of clients in cases pending across the country. By doing so, we assist our clients in working toward a uniform body of law for resolution of benefits disputes. We also take a proactive approach by working with clients to review plan language and adopt effective claims administration procedures before problems arise.
We handle disputes over entitlement to benefits and associated removal and ERISA preemption issues, breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims, subrogation actions, bad faith and rescission suits, and complex class actions in both ERISA and non-ERISA contexts. We have assumed a lead counsel role in both routine and complex benefits cases in courts in numerous states and have represented clients in connection with several important United States Supreme Court ERISA cases.
Environmental litigation is a common occurrence in today's business climate. Our attorneys handle civil and criminal lawsuits and administrative proceedings relating to the contamination, protection, and restoration of natural resources; public and private remediation rights and obligations; licensing and permitting issues; toxic torts, including both personal injury and property damage claims; and establishing, contesting, and protecting property rights and interests. Pierce Atwood's attorneys have a wealth and depth of experience with respect to relevant federal and state laws including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and analogous state statutes and regulations, and have handled both civil and criminal environmental cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts, and administrative agencies and boards.
Environmental Litigation Experience
Government Enforcement/White Collar
Pierce Atwood represents companies and individuals in connection with federal and state criminal and regulatory investigations, enforcement matters, and federal securities and commodities cases. We provide comprehensive services to clients that receive subpoenas or other requests for information from federal or state regulators. Although we seek to address and resolve issues and concerns raised by government prosecutors and regulators before a prosecution or enforcement action begins, that is not always possible, and we have extensive experience in investigating and litigating all forms of government inquiry and enforcement from the investigative stage through the grand jury process and, if necessary, trial.
The matters we handle range from alleged environmental crimes, banking and financial crimes, securities and commodities matters, ERISA matters, False Claims Act investigations and qui tam actions, securities fraud investigations, health care fraud investigations, food and drug investigations and anti-trust investigations. Regardless of the type of matter, Pierce Atwood has a proven record of helping clients avoid, resolve and mitigate the impact of government investigative and enforcement proceedings.
Pierce Atwood has extensive experience in all facets of insurance-related litigation. Whether representing an insurance company, a corporate insured, or an insurance agent, Pierce Atwood provides effective and practical legal services at the trial court level or on appeal in cases ranging from declaratory judgment actions, breach of contract suits, uninsured motorist claims, and extra-contractual litigation. Pierce Atwood consistently obtains successful results for clients whether it is overturning a large jury verdict in a bad faith disability insurance case, defending a class action for extra-contractual remedies, or prosecuting or defending a coverage case.
Insurance Litigation Experience
IP Disputes & Litigation
In today's global economy, changes in technology and product designs are constantly occurring and the need to identify, protect, and enforce intellectual property rights is increasing. Pierce Atwood has a broad range of experience representing clients in IP disputes and litigation including copyright, trademark, and patent infringement, Internet domain name and trade name disputes, unfair competition claims, as well as disputes over proprietary information and trade secrets. Our attorneys litigate matters before the United States Patent & Trademark Office, state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels, and before foreign tribunals. Our industry experience includes biotechnology, financial services, computer and software technology, music and entertainment, and designers of luxury goods.
Areas of Focus
- Patent, trademark, copyright litigation of all manner of disputes, including, but not limited to, infringement, validity and enforceability, ownership, and licensing
- Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) Proceedings, such as opposition and cancellation proceedings, interference and concurrent use proceedings, and appeals of final refusals
- Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences proceedings
- Trade secret, unfair competition, and data security breach litigation in state and federal courts throughout the United States
Products Liability Litigation
Products liability litigation is one of the most complex areas of litigation with the cases often involving scientific and technical issues combined with serious or even catastrophic personal injuries. Pierce Atwood's products liability group responds to these challenges by combining cutting-edge scientific and technical knowledge with extensive personal injury experience to deliver successful and cost-effective products liability defenses to our clients in trial and appellate courts.
From the outset of any given case, we work closely with clients manufacturing or distributing such products as vehicles, industrial equipment, pharmaceuticals, asbestos, aviation, latex medical equipment, chemicals, machinery, and forestry equipment, to identify goals, establish objectives and promptly assess the strengths and weaknesses of each case as early as possible.