a season of new beginnings;

a season of endless possibilities.

As the days grow longer and nature awakens with budding and vibrant greens, we too find ourselves energized with the promise of new beginnings at Pine Tree Legal Assistance. 

As we bid winter farewell, we are reminded it's a time of renewal, growth, and exciting opportunities. In this edition we are excited to share news that has us embracing the spirit of this season of new beginnings: 

Announcing the creation of the

Elinor & Charles Miller Rural Justice Fellowship! 

Each year, beginning in 2024, Pine Tree Legal Assistance will select one new attorney or recent law graduate to serve a two-year fellowship in either the Presque Isle or Machias office. The inaugural fellow will have the opportunity to select the Machias or Presque Isle office as their location. The fellowship will subsequently rotate between the two offices, so that there will always be one fellow based in each office. Pine Tree’s Presque Isle office serves the whole of Aroostook County, while our Machias office serves Washington and Hancock Counties.

The fellowship attorneys will have the opportunity to work on a wide range of legal issues, including areas of housing, consumer, Tribal, and family law. Fellowship attorneys will also have the opportunity to propose special projects or areas of focus for their fellowship work that are consistent with Pine Tree’s program priorities. Upon completion of their two-year fellowships, Miller Fellows are encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities at Pine Tree Legal Assistance to continue their careers in public service.

Pine Tree Legal Assistance will provide fellows with outstanding training and mentorship. This will be accomplished by connecting fellows to program-wide opportunities and communities via experienced staff, supervising attorneys, and practice group leaders. Each fellow’s training and mentorship will ensure our clients receive excellent legal services and that fellows learn and grow quickly as new lawyers. In October 2024, Pine Tree will begin an exciting collaboration with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and fellows with have the opportunity to participate in an intensive trial skills training. 

We are pleased to name this fellowship after Ellie and Charlie Miller. Ellie served several decades as a Pine Tree staff member, including as Assistant Director during some of the organization’s most challenging times. She currently serves on our Board of Directors and has served as Board officer for over a decade. Charlie, who passed away in August 2023, was a pillar in Maine's legal community. Charlie was accomplished for his expertise in real estate and business law with a client loyalty that spanned decades. Over many years, Charlie was recognized in national, prestigious lawyer rankings including Chambers USA, Super Lawyers, and Best Lawyers in America, and rated AV by Martindale Hubbel. In addition to his legal acumen, Charlie gave his expertise, leadership, and wisdom to Pine Tree Legal Assistance and many other charitable organizations. While it took the efforts of many people to build Pine Tree into the strong force for equal access to justice it is today, Ellie and Charlie Miller, are among the few who have made it a significant part of their life’s work. Dedication to equal access to justice in Maine is one of the hallmarks of their work and legacy and Pine Tree is proud that the Miller Fellows will carry this mission of service forward for years to come.

The presence of legal aid in rural communities is essential for promoting access to justice, empowering people, and addressing the unique legal challenges faced by rural populations. By providing essential services and support, legal aid organizations play a crucial role in strengthening rural communities and promoting equity and fairness under the law.

Rural communities in Maine often include marginalized groups such as seniors, indigenous peoples, immigrants, and low-income families who may face unique legal challenges. Pine Tree Legal Assistance aims to tailor support to meet the specific needs of these groups ensuring that they receive equitable access to justice and protection under the law.

Having our services in rural communities serves as a vital lifeline, ensuring that all individuals have the opportunity to exercise their rights, resolve legal disputes, and build stronger, more resilient communities in Maine.

If you’re interested in joining the fight for justice in rural Maine, please visit

Careers at PTLA | Pine Tree Legal Assistance.

For more information on efforts being made to increase access please visit:

Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic-Rural Practice Clinic

Success on the horizon? New efforts to increase rural access to justice (

How long have you been at Pine Tree and why did you want to work here?

"20+ years. I have always been an advocate for others. I saw a position at Pine Tree as an opportunity to continue what I loved to do. I had spent many years in customer service and had prior experience working in multiple departments at a local community action program, held positions in my local superior/district/and probate courts, along with working for the sheriff's department as a deputy sheriff and corrections officer. I have also been able to continue my part time job (of 25 years) as a first responder with the county's Emergency Dispatch Center during nights, weekends and holidays."

Do you have a hidden talent?

"I know how to twirl a baton. As a majorette through my Jr High and High School years I would choreograph routines that we used at concerts and in parades."

Do you have any pets?

I currently have 2 dogs (Eli an 12 year old yellow lab mix and Max a 6 year old tri colored beagle) along with 2 horses (Moshan's Fancy Lady "Fancy" a 30 year old Arabian bay mare) I have had since she was 4 months old and her companion I acquired to keep her company a few years ago (Wyatt, an 11 year old palomino Quarter Horse gelding).

Anything else you want to share?

I was fortunate to grow up in Washington County in Jonesport around a large extended family, and blessed that I was able to remain and raise my daughters in nearby Columbia. Extremely happy that I have finally settled in Columbia Falls with my current husband and that I have been able to watch grandchildren grow into adults while working in a role that allows me to help others.

This month we are spotlighting our friends at the Community Caring Collaborative in Calais, Maine. At Pine Tree Legal, we know the importance of collaborating with organizations whose missions are interconnected with ours and support them to ensure they are also strong. We hope you will support them, too.

The Community Caring Collaborative's mission is to nurture and sustain collaboration that expands resources and increases hope, health, and well-being for people in Washington County, Maine.

The challenges of poverty, trauma, substance use, major health issues, the process of aging, or other factors can make people vulnerable. Their focus is on increasing awareness of the impacts of those challenges, removing barriers to well-being that diminish potential and hope, and increasing opportunities to help people reach their dreams.

Check out the CCC Maine website and learn more about their work and how you can support them today!

I am so proud that Pine Tree has created the Miller Fellowship. This is a significant investment of resources, energy and people power to increase our services in three of Maine's counties where folks can face the greatest risk of isolation, especially in Washington County, which has Maine's highest poverty rate, at 17.5%. It is also a worthy recognition of Ellie and Charlie, who have done so much to build Pine Tree into a strong, statewide force for equal access to justice. 


It also is important to me personally. While I grew up in Southern Maine, time I spent in Washington and Aroostook Counties as a young man taught me a great deal and closely informed my understanding of justice and what service to community means. More than 20 years ago, work I did for the Maine Department of Labor and later for what is now called Maine Mobile Health led me to spend time in Washington and Aroostook Counties with people working to rake blueberries, cut broccoli, process sea cucumbers, and do other essential but hard, often hazardous jobs. People from Mexico and Central America or Mi'kmaq communities in the Canadian Maritimes, and people who'd spent their whole lives in Maine, including many Wabanaki people, all came together. 


When hospitals and courts are far (and feel even farther) away, people have to care for one another as best they can. Pine Tree folks like Debi have been part of that community care for decades, and our future Miller Fellows will play an exciting role to carry that legacy forward.  

Support access to justice in rural Maine today!

*Members of the Bar please consider donating to the Campaign for Justice.

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