12 City Center
Portland, Maine 04101
Fax: (207) 879-9374
Michael A. Cunniff was awarded a law degree magna cum laude by Suffolk University Law School in Boston, and an undergraduate degree in psychology cum laude by Boston College. He is admitted to practice law in all Maine and Massachusetts state courts, as well as in the United States District Court for the District of Maine, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. Mike has earned a reputation as a superbly organized and tenacious advocate for his clients in civil, criminal, administrative, and regulatory matters. As a consequence, Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ assigned to Mike a rating of “AV Preeminent,” reflecting that peers in the legal community ranked him as having achieved the highest level of professional excellence, including in the categories of legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication ability, and legal experience, and as having met very high ethical criteria.
Mike was a founding partner of what is known today as McCloskey, Mina & Cunniff, LLC, in 2002, and he has been Of Counsel to the firm since 2012. Previously, Mike was associate counsel in the litigation department of a large first-tier Portland law firm, where he became co-chair of the Technology, Security & Investigations Practice Group, as well as the coordinator of the firm's criminal defense practice. He has handled complex civil matters litigated in federal and state courts as counsel for plaintiffs and defendants, and he has acted as defense counsel in complicated federal and state criminal matters, ranging from allegations of attempted murder and manslaughter to fraud, criminal conspiracies, and regulatory offenses. In addition to having extensive experience in pretrial litigation, hearings and trials, Mike has briefed and argued cases before the Maine Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit; he was also lead counsel in a petition for certiorari considered by the United States Supreme Court. Moreover, he has managed and conducted internal investigations for government and corporate clients. He frequently provides legal counsel to professional and corporate clients that are susceptible to administrative, civil, or criminal sanctions because of the heavily regulated nature of their activities.
An understanding of how technology applies in a forensic setting can be critical to the success of a modern trial lawyer. In addition to previously serving as the co-chair of the Technology, Security & Investigations Practice Group in a large law firm, Mike was a principal in The McCloskey Resource Group, a separate consultancy that emerged as a consequence of McCloskey, Mina & Cunniff's reliance on forensic technology as a litigation tool and its unique investigative approaches to support its casework. Mike is well acquainted with e-discovery and computer forensic techniques, and he contributed a chapter entitled Practical Considerations: Collection of Electronically Stored Information to the 2009 Edition of The Comprehensive Guide to Lost Profits Damages for Experts and Attorneys (Nancy J. Fannon ed.). Mike’s law practice often involves sophisticated electronic discovery and analysis of electronically stored information.
Enlisted to help prepare aspiring lawyers for the courtroom, Mike accepted an appointment from the University of Maine School of Law as a member of its adjunct faculty. At the Law School, he taught courses in trial practice, as well as sentencing law and strategy. He is a frequent lecturer and speaker on topics that are related to his law practice, including constitutional criminal procedure, investigative strategy and tactics, police liability, health care fraud and regulatory compliance. Mike also regularly supports efforts to provide continuing legal education to the law enforcement community; he makes presentations to law enforcement audiences on topics ranging from constitutional criminal procedure to case preparation to situational uses of force and related police liability issues.
Deeply committed to the public service aspects of practicing law, Mike is an alumnus of the Edward Thaxter Gignoux Inn of Court, an organization of judges, law professors, lawyers, and law students who meet regularly in order to discuss legal trends in Maine's state and federal courts. He was a Bar panelist on the United States District Court for the District of Maine's Strategic Planning Committee, which assisted the Court in adapting its practices in consideration of emerging concerns and otherwise facilitating the administration of justice in the federal forum, until its work was completed in 2009. He served a lengthy term as a member of a panel assembled by the United States District Court for the District of Maine under the Criminal Justice Act, and he routinely accepted appointments as defense counsel for indigent defendants in serious criminal matters as part of a federal access to justice program. Mike also served a pro bono term as a Special Assistant District Attorney in Kennebec County. In criminal matters involving juveniles, young adults, and mental health considerations, he collaborates frequently with parents, mental health care providers, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and judges to help set juvenile or young adult offenders, or mentally ill adults, on the correct track when they become involved in litigation.
He also brought his commitment to the rule of law overseas. For nearly two years, from January 2012 until November 2013, Mike was associated with the USAID Effective Rule of Law Program in Kosovo. Operating in a post-conflict environment, he worked extensively with judicial and prosecutorial authorities in Kosovo as part of a U.S. government effort to help build a well-run, fair system of justice through a process of restructuring and reformation that followed Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008. During his tenure in the Balkans, Mike served as a legal advisor to the Kosovo Constitutional Court, the Kosovo Judicial Council, the Kosovo Judicial Institute, the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, the Kosovo Ministry of Justice (regarding the Department of International Legal Cooperation and the State Advocacy Office), and the USAID Model Courts Program. In general terms, Mike’s role in those positions was to facilitate reforms of the Kosovo judicial and prosecutorial institutions. Among other initiatives, he developed and delivered programs designed to strengthen substantive judicial services, ranging from legal reasoning and writing of judicial decisions to case and hearing management, to case backlog and delay reduction, and providing a particular focus to applications of the best ethical practices. He also had substantial responsibility in planning for the reinstitution of judicial functions in North Kosovo after the Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia reached a normalization agreement that dissolved de facto partitioning of the North from the rest of Kosovo that followed Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008.
Kosovo was not Mike’s only international experience as a lawyer. In March 2011, he was a pro bono legal advisor to a team of court administrators engaged by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the European Union to design a project that would implement judicial administration reforms in Serbia as part of that country’s application for admission to the European Union. It was delicate subject matter, and his work in Serbia involved liaison with judges and staff members of the Serbian High Court Council, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Cassation, the Courts of Appeal, the Commercial Court, the High Court, the Misdemeanor Court and the Municipal Court, as well as the Serbian Ministry of Justice and other interested parties. He also participated in international and multicultural programs under the auspices of Project Harmony, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development and Southern Maine Community College’s Center for Global Opportunities. Mike’s participation included hosting individuals from Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Moldova in his home, as well as the facilitation of cultural education programs. He also assisted in developing internships for international students from Turkmenistan and Ukraine, and a presentation on legal issues to students from Russia, Spain, Somalia and the Netherlands.
Adding an important dimension to his law practice, Mike began his law practice in 1999 after 27 years of federal law enforcement service with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and its predecessor agency, the United States Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. He emerged from his federal law enforcement career with a reputation for demonstrating a high level of professionalism, superlative leadership skills, and an unusual record of accomplishment. At the time of his retirement from federal service, Mike, a Supervisory Special Agent, was managing a Massachusetts-based multi-jurisdictional task force operating in the inner city neighborhoods of Eastern Massachusetts, often concentrating on the suppression of drug-related violence. Serving in permanent posts of duty in Boston, New York City, and Portland, and performing temporary duty in many other locations, Mike investigated and supervised complicated cases involving sophisticated criminal organizations with operations that were often interstate or international in scope, or engaged in law enforcement efforts designed to improve the quality of life in the communities where he worked, and included risky undercover assignments. Mike was also the lead federal law enforcement officer in a Maine task force that investigated diversion of pharmaceuticals and failures to comply with regulatory requirements for legitimately manufactured drugs, and the manager of a multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional financial investigative group in Massachusetts. As a federal agent, he was a regular member of prosecutor-investigator teams that presented complex cases to federal grand juries and then tried the indicted cases to federal juries, and he frequently testified as a percipient or expert witness in connection with those matters. All together, Mike completed 30 years of law enforcement agency employment. As a college student, Mike completed a fellowship sponsored by the Boston Mayor’s Office of Public Service, which yielded recommendations for the modernization of the Boston Police Department’s training regimen. He was also employed full time as a Boston Police Department cadet from 1969 until 1972 while attending Boston College, which included cadet assignments at the Headquarters Criminal Investigation Division, the Roxbury (Division 2) Detective Squad, the Roxbury (Division 2) Front Desk Cadre, and the Central Complaint Unit. In his role as a legal educator, Mike frequently describes how these experiences provide an invaluable perspective to a trial lawyer.
The son of a Boston police officer who was raised in the neighborhoods of Boston, Mike is a dual citizen of Ireland (European Union) and the United States. He and his wife, Linda, have three grown children and reside in Scarborough.