William Harwood

“If you think about our world as not just a mass of problems, but as a group of individual possibilities, think of what we can do.”
- Senator Edmund S. Muskie

William S. Harwood’s distinguished career exceeds even Maine’s high standards of commitment to expanding justice for Maine’s low-income and needy elderly population.

A graduate of Harvard University (B.A., 1974) and Fordham University School of Law (J.D., 1978), Bill joined the Portland law firm of Verrill & Dana almost immediately after law school, in January of 1979 and became a partner in July of 1984. He has devoted most of his 38 year career to representing public utilities before state and federal regulatory agencies. He has represented electric, gas, water and telecommunications companies in more than 50 major cases before the Maine Public Utilities Commission and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

At the same time, Bill has served as a pro bono attorney for hundreds of low-income Mainers with civil legal problems, using his legal skills to solve critical problems for individuals unable to afford counsel. His many awards for this work include the 1991 “Outstanding Victim Advocacy Award” from Family Crisis Services for his pro bono representation of victims of domestic; the 1994 “Howard H. Dana, Jr Award” from the Maine Justice Foundation for his significant contributions to access to justice; and, in 1999, the Pro Bono Publico Award from the American Bar Association for outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged.

Bill’s commitment to justice also includes support for the organizations and institutions that make civil legal services possible. From 1983- 1988, he served on the Board, including a year as Chair, of Maine Legal Services for the Elderly. From 1986 – 1993, Bill served on the Board, including a year as President, of the Maine Bar Foundation (now, the Maine Justice Foundation). As President, he played a key role in implanting the recommendations from Senator Muskie’s Maine Commission on Legal Needs, including expansion of pro bono service, improved coordination of services among all the major legal service providers, and the launching of new outreach efforts to provide legal services in rural Maine. Bill then helped found the Muskie Fund for Legal Services, serving as its first Dinner Chair from 1996 – 1999. Bill was also involved in the creation of the Justice Action Group and the establishment of the Frank M. Coffin Fellowship Program.

His leadership with these varied endeavors has both supported legal services to thousands of vulnerable Maine individuals who would not otherwise have received that assistance, and dramatically increased public awareness and understanding of civil legal needs in Maine.

Muskie Fund for Legal Services | P.O. Box 547, Portland, Maine 04112 | (207) 400-3279