This fall, the University of Maine School of Law reunion celebrates the classes of 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007. With 10 classes, this is the biggest reunion event in the school’s history. It will be held Sept. 14-15 in Portland.
As part of the celebration, Maine Law spent time catching up with some of the alums from those classes. Robert LeBrasseur, a criminal defense lawyer in Portland, was a member of the class of 1997.
Maine Law: What do you do for work?
Robert LeBrasseur: The Law Office of Robert C. LeBrasseur, PC
ML: What is most fulfilling about your job?
RL: Assisting individuals who find themselves in a scary and difficult situation, struggling to make sense of what is most likely a mistake they made. The majority of individuals I help have mental health and substance abuse issues. They are seeking someone to help them to get out of the cycle they find themselves in, and they rely on me to guide them. I enjoy the challenge.
ML: You worked as a drug prosecutor, and then as in-house counsel for an insurance company before devoting your professional life to criminal defense. What made you realize that was your true calling as a lawyer?
RL: I decided that I wanted to practice law while taking a high school constitutional law course. Professor David Gregory and Mel Zarr’s criminal law classes made me realize I wanted to work in the criminal law field, and my experience as in-house counsel for an insurance company confirmed this. I prefer criminal defense to prosecuting because it gives me greater latitude in developing a theory of the case and encourages thinking outside of the box.
ML: You served as attorney for defendants in some of the highest profile cases in recent Maine history, including Chad Gurney, Pamela Henderson and Kristian McKay. With all the media attention and distractions, how do you stay focused?
RL: As a criminal defense attorney you must be aware that the cameras will be present at your client’s initial appearance. This is the first time the public at large, your jury pool, is going to get a “current” look at your client. Therefore, you must be cognizant of this and make sure your client presents appropriately. This is also the stock photo and video the press will use in subsequent news stories. You have to start defending and educating the potential jury pool about your client through the camera lens and in your answers to questions from reporters. It is this potential jury pool and your ethical obligations that you must keep in mind as you interact with members of the press. Additionally, with the growth of social media and comments on news sites, you have to review all comments to determine how the case is being viewed and chart your defense appropriately. This helps you focus on the issues of the case. You have to use all this in developing a theory of defense. You have no choice but to embrace it.
ML: How do you like to spend your time when you are not working?
RL: I have two young children, 6-year-old Nicholas and 3-year-old Abrielle, and I enjoy spending as much time with them and my wife as possible. We enjoy spending time with extended family and friends. I try to teach my kids as much as I can outside of the classroom and home. We spend a lot of time travelling locally and experiencing new things. We take advantage of Farm Days, fairs and all Maine has to offer. I also enjoy my own time doing nothing but reading.
ML: What are some of your favorite memories of your time at Maine Law?
RL: I truly enjoyed my 1L year. We had a great class. The group of people I sat with led to some great friendships and classroom interactions. At “some” lunches on Fridays a group of us would get together for pizza and beer. It was always fun to watch those who drank too much suffer at Professor Gregory’s Socratic method. The times at Drake’s Island during non-school hours were great as well, as we bonded as a class.
ML: When you weren’t in class or studying, where were you most likely to be found?
RL: With my family, friends’ houses and apartments, the Old Port, and basketball games at the USM gym. Class parties at Jim Hall’s place on Drake’s Island.
ML: How did your studies at Maine Law help prepare you for your career?
RL: Maine Law had some great classes and professors in the criminal law field who really challenged you to change your thought process and to explore every possibility. You were challenged to accept no “truth” but to question it.
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?
RL: Making money should not be the primary reason for entering law school. If you have any doubts, consider other options as the job market in the legal field is extremely tough, the pay is not great to start, and the student loans are high. Once in law school, volunteer to work during your first year and summer for local firms where you might want to work, or in the field you want to practice. In your second and third years it is important to obtain employment in field you hope to practice in, even if it means getting less pay. Also, you must be very savvy in the use of technology.
Do you have a story to tell, or would you like to recommend a classmate for an alumni profile? Contact Maine Law’s communications director, Trevor Maxwell, at firstname.lastname@example.org.