Maine native and federal jurist Frank M. Coffin was truly a “Man for all Seasons.” Born in Lewiston, Maine in 1919, he served in all branches of the federal government: legislative, executive, and judicial. He earned degrees from Bates College, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Law School. He served in WWII, and worked for the Portland law firm Verrill Dana LLP. He championed legal services for the poor and access to justice. His most lasting legacy may be the Frank M. Coffin Fellows Project administered by the American Bar Foundation. The fellows serve 2 year-terms to represent low-income parties in family law cases.
In the early 1950s, working alongside Edmund S. Muskie, he helped re-invigorate the Maine Democratic party, served as its chairman, and helped Edmund S. Muskie become Governor. He served as a U.S. Representative in Congress from Maine’s 2nd district, and worked for international foreign aid agencies funded by the U.S. government. In 1965, he was named to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and served on the bench for 40 years, with 11 years as Chief Judge of the court (1972-1983). Judge Coffin also served as the Chairman of the U.S Judicial Conference Committee from 1984-1990. The U.S. Judicial Conference Committee is the national policy making body for the Federal Courts. The archives include all of the materials from this service as well.
Judge Coffin wrote about 2,600 published and unpublished opinions which form the bulk of this collection. He also wrote 4 books: Witness for AID (Houghton Mifflin 1964); The Ways of a Judge: Views From the Federal Appellate Bench (Houghton Mifflin 1980); A Lexicon of Oral Advocacy (National Institute of Trial Advocacy 1985); On Appeal: Courts Lawyering and Judging (W.W. Norton 1994). All proofs, galleys, outlines and notes are included in the collection. Physically, the collection includes 882 (8.5 x 14) legal boxes; the contents include all his opinions, committee working papers, reports, speeches, awards, drawings, photos and musings, and a paper index. Judge Coffin personally donated his legal papers to the Maine School of Law on January 14, 2003, and was instrumental in their organization and presentation as a complete legal testimony to his tenure as a jurist.
Frank M. Coffin Catalogue of Speeches, Addresses and Lectures
This is a catalogue of more than 140 speeches, addresses, and lectures given by Judge Coffin on the following topics: the judiciary as an institution, judging, the law, the legal profession, legal education, and tributes to other judges, politicians, world leaders, professors, and scholars. The Law School would like to thank the Honorable Daniel Wathen, former Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and Barbara Riegelhaupt, Judge Coffin’s long time clerk, for their work in developing this catalogue. For more insight into these speeches, please read the article published in the Maine Law Review, The Speeches of Frank M. Coffin: A Sideline To Judging, 63 Maine Law Rev. 468 (2011).