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Charles and Elinor Miller
"You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it."
Tikkun Olam: Helping to Repair or Perfect the World
Few people better embody a commitment to the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, undertaking those things which make society function in a more positive way and which allow our most vulnerable residents to live fully realized lives. Maine's civil justice system reflects their success in advancing those goals through both individual and shared endeavors over the past forty years.
A cum laude graduate of the University of Maine School of Law, Charlie's entire legal career has been spent at Bernstein Shur Sawyer & Nelson, one of Maine's three largest law firms. He is currently the managing shareholder of the firm. His practice specializes in real estate and business law, for which Charlie is recognized by Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, and Chambers USA and rated AV by Martindale Hubbell. Charlie is the co-chair of both Lex Mundi's international Women's Initiative Leadership Advancement Task Force and the Coffin Fellowship Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Maine Bar Foundation and numerous bar associations.
Currently the Director of Levey Day School, a private Jewish day school in Portland, Ellie spent 28 years in various administrative roles within Pine Tree Legal Assistance, for which she was honored with the Downing Fund Award in 2005. She received a Master of Arts in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College in 2003 and served as class valedictorian.
Charlie and Ellie have partnered on many initiatives that have provided lasting benefits to Maine's legal services community. The demand for legal help will always exceed staff capacity and require the help of dedicated volunteers; to assure that those resources will be available in Maine, they have actively promoted the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project and other volunteer initiatives. Recognizing that ongoing funding is essential in serving clients with no financial resources, they have taken leadership roles in development or ongoing support of the Muskie Fund for Legal Services, the Coffin Fellowship program, and the Campaign for Justice. They have also been leaders within their own spheres of influence. Ellie was responsible for virtually every service innovation and new project during her tenure at Pine Tree, a list which includes Maine’s first legal aid projects for victims of domestic violence and migrant farmworkers, grants that helped secure federal recognition of the Maliseet and Micmac Bands, creation of new family law services for unrepresented litigants, and development of KIDS LEGAL. Charlie has served as pro bono counsel to Pine Tree for many years. In 2008, his firm launched Maine’s first program allowing summer associates to spend up to 4 weeks working for a legal aid provider at the firm's expense. By the end of 2009, the program will have generated over 1,500 hours of legal work and allowed a new generation of future lawyers to become part of delivering justice to Maine’s most vulnerable residents.