17 South St, Portland, ME 04101 | ralevine@maine.rr.com

Experienced Attorney in Portland, ME

Welcome to the law firm of Robert A. Levine. I am a graduate of Dartmouth College '84 and the University of Maine School of Law '88. I began my solo practice directly out of law school, and started handling court appointed criminal cases, a wonderful training ground for helping people in trouble.
I am a member of the following:
Maine Behavioral Healthcare Board of Trustees
Chevra Kadisha Board of Trustees
President of Temple Bethel Brotherhood

Criminal Law

Oftentimes substance abuse and mental health issues are at the heart of criminal conduct, ripe for treatment in an environment more therapeutic than the jail cell. The advocacy in criminal cases often focuses on getting the client the right treatment, which often drives better outcomes, both legally and personally. Not every criminal case can be resolved by plea agreement, however. There are those cases that are ripe for trial, either because the plea offer is unacceptable, the risks of going forward to trial are acceptable, or because the client is actually innocent. These cases present the opportunity to exercise one of the most important constitutional rights, the right to a jury trial; where the stakes are high, the other side is represented by all the machinery of the state, including an experienced prosecutor, victim/witness advocates, and the entire police force.
Man Handcuffed — Criminal attorney in Portland, ME
The beauty of the jury trial system is that the jury is the great equalizer, composed of members of the community, who serve as its conscience, and must give the benefit of the doubt to the individual defendant, who is presumed innocent until and if the state can carry its burden of proof. Criminal cases represent an excavation of the facts and circumstances in an exhaustive search for justice, whether through trial, plea, or motion practice. My approach in analyzing a case, just as in preparing for jury trial, is to start with the closing argument.
Seeing the case through the eyes of a fact finder like a judge or jury gives enhanced insight into the opportunities that exist to optimize the outcome. Knowing what evidence may or may not be admissible and taking advantage of opportunities to suppress evidence unlawfully seized can not only result in a better outcome; it can often decide the outcome without a trial, and all its attendant risks.

Personal Injury

Over the years, I have expanded my practice to other areas where people have trouble: divorce and family law, social security disability and personal injury. The common theme binding these areas together is the ability to tell the client's story to the fact finder, whether it be a judge, jury or claims representative. The advocacy of a personal injury case, for instance, involves writing a comprehensive letter of demand to the insurance company, including the story of the injury, the impact upon the client's life and health, and the reason that the other party is at fault. It is a combination of legal argument, and story telling, weaving medical reports and bills into the equation as hard evidence of actual harm. I also approach the task with the same compassion that informs my sentencing advocacy in a criminal case; sharing quotations from my client and other family members into footnotes and attached letters, so that the insurance company can preview the testimony in court and begin to see the case from a jury's perspective. Again, starting with an eye to the end of the case drives a better outcome.
Construction accident — Personal injury in Portland, ME
I don't accept a personal injury case unless the facts support a beneficial outcome as to both liability and damages. People often ask whether they can benefit by having a lawyer as their advocate, rather than advocate for themselves before an insurance. The answer is a resounding yes, and the reason is that the lawyer typically operates on a contingency fee basis, where there is no compensation paid to the lawyer unless the client receives benefits. The typical contingency fee is one third of the benefits collected. No fees are collected up front or paid unless we prevail.
It has been a privilege to represent those damaged by personal injury due to the negligence of another. The civil justice system offers monetary damages in an effort to make the injured party whole. To some, this might seem like adding insult to injury by reducing the pain and suffering to a number of dollars. My job is to make the other side and/or the factfinder to see the human being on the other side of the injury, and to realize that we are trying to find justice for him or her, however imperfect it may seem. Most of these cases do not go to jury trial, however. The reason is the same that most criminal cases result in plea agreements: the system is not equipped to handle so many trials, and as a result alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a court ordered predicate to trial. This represents the hiring of a neutral third party (usually another lawyer) to meet with both parties, to hear opening statements from both sides summarizing the facts of their claim or defense, and to make an early neutral evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses. This process often leads to favorable outcomes, as both sides are forced to negotiate against the backdrop of rising costs, including deposition costs, expert witness fees and jury trial costs, not to mention the cost of hiring the mediator. These sessions are often like mini-trials, where each side has to stand and deliver their best argument to the neutral third party lawyer, and hear the honest evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses. It is the system's best alternative to trying every case. I prepare for these sessions as I would prepare for trial, gathering statements, honing arguments, providing materials to the mediator in advance, and humanizing the injury and the injured. I enjoy the challenge of making it about more than money.

Family Law & Divorce

Family law can be highly contentious. Divorce can test the limits of patience, impair judgment, and adversely affect the well-being of children not just now, but when they become adults and have children of their own. Accordingly, the process is designed to avoid a contested hearing whenever possible, by making mediation mandatory in cases with children. My approach is to take the mediation model and apply it to most, but not all cases, regardless of whether children are involved, and to informalize the mediation process by inviting the other side to meet with us individually in a non-adversarial setting like my office, in hopes of arriving at an agreement or at narrowing the lines of disagreement. The process has proved surprisingly successful at setting an appropriate tone at the start, which translates to better outcomes in the end.
Woman removing her wedding ring — Divorce in Portland, ME
There are those cases that do not give rise to informal mediation in the same room, especially those involving domestic violence or protection from abuse orders prohibiting direct or indirect contact. In those cases, the challenge is to address the underlying issue that gives rise to the conflict, whether through individual therapy, co-parenting counseling, Kid's First, or ICOPE (a court sponsored 9 week course for parents in high conflict.) The challenge is to find the right mix of communication and conflict resolution, together with maintenance of safety and personal integrity. In my experience, most conflict begins with distrust and lack of communication. Addressing the underlying conflict is the best way to address better communication and restore a functional level of trust. It is also the best way to raise children of divorce, to grow up to become functional adults.

Social Security Disability

Lastly, the practice of social security disability represents those impaired by injury or illness to the extent that they are unable to maintain gainful employment. The practice has become increasingly challenging before the ODAR (Office of Disability Adjudication and Review), where administrative law judges have become increasingly reluctant to pay benefits to clients whose conditions are not fully documented. Often, the client will need to engage in some form of treatment to document his/her condition, and then to participate in a mental health and/or physical evaluation to satisfy the administrative law judge that they meet or equal a listing for disability. The funding of these evaluations is unaffordable to the disabled client, and often will have to be funded up front by the law office. These cases, like personal injury cases, are taken on a contingency fee basis, where no money is paid up front, and the lawyer only gets a fee if the client recovers benefits.
Hand filling out paperwork — Social security attorney in Portland, ME
Call Attorney Robert A. Levine today for more information about legal representation (207) 871-0036.