Maine Law Alumni Profiles
Jack Montgomery '77
Jack Montgomery, (Maine Law ’77) is a man of many talents. He is the practice leader for the Energy & Environmental Practice Group at Bernstein Shur, one of Maine’s largest law firms. He’s also a renowned fine arts photographer, with an eye for capturing the essence of his subjects. To read Maine Law’s Q&A with Jack, please see below.
Maine Law: What do you do for work?
Jack Montgomery: Attorney/Shareholder at Bernstein Shur. I am the practice group leader for the Energy & Environmental Practice Group.
ML: What is most fulfilling about your job?
JM: Mentoring younger lawyers. Problem solving for clients, particularly getting disputes settled quickly and fairly. Strategic planning and education in the energy, environmental and insurance fields.
ML: You do a lot of work with energy companies. With such rapid advancements in technology, and so many possibilities on the horizon for the generation and delivery of energy, is this an exciting time to practice in that field?
JM: Yes, exciting and challenging. Cheap natural gas, restrictions in the grid and the evolution of wind are three of the major “game changers” in the energy field in Maine. Helping existing clients deal with these trends and anticipating where the new clients will come from is stimulating.
ML: Outside of your work as a lawyer, you are well known in Maine as a fine arts photographer. How did you get your start in that pursuit?
JM: My photography is my passion. It began on a summer vacation almost twenty years ago when I needed something to occupy me beyond sitting on the beach. I took a few courses, including one with the Maine Photographic Workshops (now Maine Media Workshops) and it just grew from there.
ML: You photographed firefighters in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on New York City. Many of their families later came to Maine, for summer camps and other activities. Can you talk about the bonds you formed with those men?
JM: Maine’s response to this project was terrific. I worked with one firehouse – Ladder Company 3 on W. 13th Street. As I was shooting the images in late September and October 2001, we formed a board here in Maine that worked tirelessly at fund raising. The first money the families of Ladder Company 3 received was from Maine, in time for Thanksgiving. One of our board members was Henry Kennedy, whose family owns Camp Kieve in Nobleboro. Through their generosity and the contributions of many Mainers, the widows and children of Ladder Company 3, as well as the surviving firefighters of Ladder 3 and their families, come to Maine every August for a week of family camp. Strong friendships have been built and at least one of those firefighters now lives in South Portland.
ML: How do you like to spend your time when you are not working?
JM: Hanging out with the family, photographing, hiking and traveling.
ML: What are some of your favorite memories of your time at Maine Law?
JM: The highlight was having a chance – just once – to correct David Gregory in class. He had a terrific mind and was a great teacher but usually had us reeling with his incisive questioning. Classes with Mel Zarr were always terrific (including his array of multi-colored pens). But my best memories were my friends, some of whom remain close. Jody Sataloff (’77) remains a very dear friend to us.
ML: When you weren’t in class or studying, where were you most likely to be found?
JM: Cutting and splitting wood. We lived in a VERY humble and small home in Topsham. I can’t say that I studied by candle light but it was close.
ML: How did your studies at Maine Law help prepare you for your career?
JM: Just hard work and learning to think clearly. Torts, Criminal Law and Evidence were the three I enjoyed the most and later found most useful. I think the high-point was studying Packer’s “The Limits of the Criminal Sanction” with Mel Zarr, which really forced me to look at policy issues lying behind the law.
ML: It’s a challenging job market for law school graduates these days. What advice would you give to the current Maine Law students, or those considering a legal education?
JM: It’s tough to be a lawyer. It always has been, but I think it is more challenging today than ever. My advice is to envision a life that you want to lead and if legal studies can help you get there, great. But make the law a means, not an end, to fulfillment. Sounds corny but that’s my advice. Don’t give up your passions. And work in a business or some other challenging environment before becoming a lawyer so you are able to think like your clients.