James R. Erwin

Jim Erwin leads Pierce Atwood's Employment Group. A large portion of Jim’s practice involves advising higher education institutions on all forms of higher education and employment law. In his role as outside counsel to Bates College, Jim advises the Board of Administrators on risk management, employment, academic and student affairs, and related matters.

In 2012, he was appointed by Governor LePage to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. The 16-member board plays an active role in oversight and strategy for the seven universities that make up the system. He also sits on the Pine Tree Council Executive Board and Chairs the Seeds of Peace Maine Steering Committee. 

Jim also 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 a 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 also 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

Lawyer of the Year in The Best Lawyers in America for Employment Law 2015

Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Employment Law 2003-2015

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

Member, 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