PORTLAND, ME — Aspiring attorneys began their classes in the new home of the State’s only law school this week, which is co-located with academic and public service programs from the University of Maine System (UMS) and the University of Southern Maine that will foster interdisciplinary learning in support of state workforce needs. Maine Governor Janet Mills and UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy cut the ribbon on Maine Law’s new home at 300 Fore St. in Portland on Thursday evening, January 12. On Tuesday, January 17, the school welcomed students into their new classrooms for the start of the spring semester.
The 63,000-square-foot facility with state-of-the-art technological capabilities and a full law library is close to courts and commerce in Maine’s largest city, ensuring the resources of the state’s only law school are more accessible to the community.
Maine Law’s Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, through which student attorneys provide nearly 14,000 hours of pro bono legal services each year to low-income Mainers while developing their professional practice skills, has also relocated to 300 Fore St. from 59 Exeter St.
“Maine Law holds a special place in my heart, and I know that this new building will be the place where Maine’s future attorneys will begin their careers and master skills that will prepare them for success in whatever challenges and opportunities lie ahead,” said Mills, herself a Maine Law alumna. “I congratulate Maine Law and the University of Maine System as they begin this exciting new chapter.”
The relocation to the former headquarters of the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) comes after almost two decades of deliberation about the future of Maine Law’s long-standing location at 246 Deering Ave. on the edge of the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus.
Beyond being named by Architectural Digest as one of America’s ugliest university buildings, the Deering Avenue facility did not support the modern technology necessary for remote/hybrid education, regularly suffered the consequences of significant water damage, and had inadequate HVAC and other systems. Its size and round design also limited the growth of Maine Law, which will now have room to expand the student body.
The University of Maine System was considering new construction with cost estimates as high as $90 million or upward of $20 million in renovations to make the existing building usable when the CIEE building went on the market. Ultimately, the retrofit cost $13.7 million and took just 14 months without disruption to students and public service. Consigli Construction led the renovation work, with a design by CHA, which was funded in through capital investment provided to UMS by the Maine Legislature and Governor Mills, along with generous gifts from Bobby Monks and Bonnie Porta.
Joining Maine Law at the Fore Street facility are the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center, UMaine’s Portland Gateway, UMaine Graduate School of Business, along with offices of the UMaine Foundation and USM’s Muskie School of Public Service. It is the first campus to bring together programs of three UMS universities and will foster innovative interdisciplinary learning and partnerships that better prepare students for success in the 21st-century knowledge economy.
“As a former practicing attorney, it is easy for me to understand the importance of legal education. One of my first objectives as Chancellor was to ensure everyone else knew just how important an institution this law school is to the state. Throughout our state and country, Maine Law alumni are serving the public interest and upholding the rule of law, and current students and faculty are catalyzing change in our state, nation, and world,” said Malloy.
“This represents an exciting new chapter for Maine Law and the University of Maine System,” President and Dean of Maine Law Leigh Saufley said. “We are grateful to the Harold Alfond Foundation for their initial grant, which catalyzed and inspired the collaborations through the Graduate and Professional Center, and for their partnership in planning the future funding of this amazing building. Our students and our community are poised to benefit greatly from this move, which is not just a physical one but a transition that reflects our goals of being more rapidly responsive to the needs of our students and the Maine economy and of supporting the rule of law and access to justice in a rapidly changing world.”
The new location is expected to increase the recruitment and retention of both students and faculty.
“In design and location, 300 Fore St. provides us with tools that will foster innovation and collaboration. We are now situated at a center of economic, political, and judicial activity. This translates to increased access to opportunities, more channels for collaboration, and the perfect place to build community,” said Dhiyva Singaram, a second-year law student who also serves on the UMS Board of Trustees. “Our new home comes with new possibilities to pave paths and deepen relationships. As the first students to study at the new building, we have the opportunity to shape Maine Law’s next chapter. And what we do now will set the scene for years to come.”
For further information please contact:
Emma Ea Ambrose, firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-577-3244.