In it for the long haul.

Downs Rachlin Martin was founded on the philosophy that anything is possible when imagination and pragmatism live side-by-side.


The 55+ lawyers of Downs Rachlin apply creativity, connections and experience to solve your toughest legal problems. From five offices located around northern New England, we make goals achievable and get important things done.

We’ve got you covered.

We work with a diverse array of regional, national and international entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, technology businesses and Fortune 100 companies. On their behalf, the firm:

  • Advises businesses and their owners and managers on all aspects of the business life cycle, including governance, ownership structuring, executive compensation, succession planning, tax planning, equity and debt financing, sales, mergers and acquisitions.
  • Provides comprehensive legal services for the acquisition of power generation facilities in the United States and Latin America.
  • Coordinates collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance resolution nationwide for the elevator industry.
  • Manages patent applications for major corporations in the United States and Asia, and our trademark lawyers regularly secure trademark registrations worldwide.
  • Performs due diligence and database management for multiple site acquisitions (particularly involving wireless-communications infrastructure) and for storing, indexing and retrieving high-volume documentation.
  • Defends and prosecutes environmental and toxic tort claims and pursues insurance coverage for policyholders.
  • Provides in-state legal counsel for the establishment of single-parent and group captive insurance.
  • Represents individuals who have experienced life-altering consequence from serious personal injuries and wrongful death, including brain and spinal cord injuries.
  • Maintains one of the largest government and public affairs practices in the state of Vermont, headquartered in Montpelier.
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Anything is possible when you have the right team on your side.

It's a simple concept that continues to serves us well: assemble a team of like-minded people striving for excellence and good things are bound to happen. That's how we approach our hiring strategy, and it's how we choose the partners we work with, in our industry and our communities.

Players in the legal community.

Downs Rachlin Martin is the exclusive member firm in Vermont for Lex Mundi – the world’s leading network of independent law firms with in-depth experience in 100+ countries worldwide.

As part of the Lex Mundi global network, we can provide our clients with preferred access to more than 21,000 lawyers around the world – all from a single point of contact.

Individually, each Lex Mundi member firm is a leader in its local market. Collectively, Lex Mundi firms provide global legal resources with unmatched depth and breadth. Working with other Lex Mundi firms, we are able to seamlessly handle our clients’ most challenging cross-border transactions and disputes.

Participants in our local communities.

The founders of Downs Rachlin instilled in all of us the fundamental belief that it is important to be involved in and give back to the communities in which we live. As such, all Downs Rachlin's directors, attorneys and staff are encouraged to participate in both regional and local chambers and associations, and to support non-profits dedicated to service. Here are some of those organizations:

  • Access to Justice Campaign c/o The Vermont Bar Foundation
  • Associated Industries of Vermont (AIV)
  • Brain Injury Association of Vermont
  • Burlington Business Association (BBA)
  • Business & Industry Association of NH (BIA-NH)
  • Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce
  • Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium
  • Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
  • Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center
  • Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC)
  • Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce (LCRCC)
  • Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce
  • New Hampshire Campaign for Legal Services
  • Newport City Renaissance Corp.
  • Renewable Energy Vermont
  • St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce
  • Vermont Banker’s Association
  • Vermont Chamber of Commerce
  • Vermont Public Radio
  • Vermont Public Television
  • Vermont Ski Areas Association (VSAA)
  • Vermont Nursing Association (VNA)
  • Vermont Women’s Fund
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The strength of our firm is the foundation upon which it is built.

"Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC started its life more than sixty years ago as a two-lawyer office in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Today, as the largest firm in Vermont, with five offices in Vermont and New Hampshire, Downs Rachlin represents clients nationally and internationally. Despite its growth, Downs Rachlin continues to be nourished by its rural roots and strives to project historic Vermont values: integrity, reliability, hard work."

-Robert D. Rachlin, Senior Director

The foundation for Downs Rachlin was established in 1950, when Sterry R. Waterman and John H. Downs founded Waterman and Downs, a St. Johnsbury, VT. law firm practicing business law and litigation with associated work in government affairs. Five years later, Waterman was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower to serve as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Waterman read law before being admitted to practice. He served as a circuit court judge for 15 years before assuming senior status in 1970.

Downs worked as a sole practitioner until 1960, when Robert D. Rachlin joined him after having graduated from the University of Chicago Law School. Allen Martin, who had served as a law clerk for Judge Waterman in 1965 - 1966 and spent three years practicing law in Boston, joined the firm in 1969. Like Downs, Martin earned his law degree at Harvard Law School. The number of employees at the St. Johnsbury office quickly expanded to 15. In 1976, Rachlin opened a second office in Burlington, and Martin followed in 1980.

Today, Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC has offices in Burlington, St. Johnsbury, Brattleboro, and Montpelier, Vt. and Lebanon, N.H. The firm has more than 140 employees, including approximately 60 attorneys and legal professionals. It is the largest law firm in Vermont and one of the largest firms in northern New England offering a broad range of services with deep experience within those specific areas.

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Poised for long-term success.

Downs Rachlin Martin’s management structure supports the collaborative advantages of collegiality and the operating efficiencies of a corporate hierarchy. As firm managers, attorneys share first-hand in the challenges of running a substantial business. This practical experience assures our clients that Downs Rachlin’s attorneys and staff understand the challenges they face in a changing world.

The guiding force.

Our management team guides the firm's business, hiring, IT, financial and communication strategies and identifies the best course for the firm's long-term health.

Peter B. Kunin, Managing Partner & Chief Executive Officer

David J. Sylvester, Deputy Managing Partner

Linda Copson, Chief Financial Officer | Director of Strategy

Angela Comeau, Chief Operating Officer

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Our most valued asset walks out the door at the end of each day.

We recognize that our firm is what it is today because of the people who work here, past and present. Downs Rachlin Martin is proud of our history and grateful for the service of the many dedicated attorneys, paralegals and staff that have helped us to succeed and to grow. Throughout our history, we have been honored by the dedication and leadership of many; from John Downs and Sterry Waterman at our founding to the newest employee. Every day, Downs Rachlin's people make a difference both within the firm and in the communities in which we live and work.

The Diane R. Lynch Distinguished Service Award.

The Diane R. Lynch Distinguished Service Award is given annually to a former or current employee who has demonstrated the loyalty, dedication, energy, drive, selflessness, good nature, humor and commitment that Diane Lynch exemplified in her years with the firm.

About Diane.

Diane joined the firm in 1974 as a legal secretary, and worked for more than 20 years in the firm's St. Johnsbury Office. She was named office manager in 1976 and personnel and administrative manager in 1983. In that position, she managed employment services for a law firm that grew from 15 employees working in one office in 1974 to more than 130 employees in five offices when she left the firm due to illness. In 1994 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the following years she continued to assist Downs Rachlin whenever possible, and returned to the firm between periods of intensive treatment.

Diane's legacy.

Diane Lynch was the type of Downs Rachlin employee that many would like to emulate. She was widely known and universally liked. Sadly, she passed away on November 29, 2000, shortly before the first Diane R. Lynch Distinguished Service Award was presented. Since then, the firm has each year honored a dedicated employee whose service to the firm has helped to make it an outstanding place to live and to work.

Past recipients:

We have awarded the Diane Lynch Award every year since her passing, in honor of her memory, and in recognition of the exceptional service these employees have provided to the firm.

  • Linda Copson & Karen Norman, 2020
  • Michele Bottino, 2019
  • Jody Kaiser, 2018
  • Monique Trono, 2017
  • Eric A. Poehlmann, 2016
  • Brenda Ham, 2015
  • William Schroeder, 2014
  • Laura (Fiordelisi) Roberts, 2013
  • Marie B. Whitbeck, 2012
  • Priscilla T. Smith, 2011
  • Lori A. Lembesis, 2010
  • Wynne W. Browne, 2009
  • LeNora R. Nugent, 2008
  • Marcia J. Letourneau, 2007
  • Laurie B. Marshall, 2006
  • Joni L. Gingue, 2005
  • John H. Marshall, 2004
  • David A. Gile, 2003
  • Kim L. Gilding, 2002
  • Allen Martin, 2001
  • Judi L. Chapman, 2000
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We're so passionate about our commitment to client service that we consider exceeding expectations to be our baseline.

Our highest priority is to deliver exceptionally high quality legal services to our clients. Each person at Downs Rachlin Martin is expected to treat our clients' problems as his or her own and works with clients creatively, efficiently, and diligently to solve them. This is our commitment to both our clients and the people who work here:

Business sense, legal ingenuity.

We are entrepreneurial and business minded. We manage the firm for continued success and profitability. We develop innovative ways to serve our clients in existing practices and pursue new practice and client opportunities. We enhance the long-term success of Downs Rachlin by mentoring others to succeed to the firm's existing practices.

An environment of excellence.

We are committed to a work environment that attracts and retains dedicated, experienced, and hard-working people. We come to work each day excited by the interesting and challenging work we do for our clients. We prepare and support our people to succeed through ongoing training and mentoring in specialized areas. We strive to accommodate the personal needs of those who demonstrate our values in their work.

Collaboration is key.

We place a high value on firm-wide collaboration. We believe that collaboration among individuals and across practice areas makes us more successful than we would be acting independently. We place a high value on people who pitch in and help others meet our clients' needs, who explore opportunities outside their own areas of responsibility, who appreciate the unique skills and experience of everyone in the firm and who demonstrate a willingness to act in the interest of the firm. We are committed to communication and cooperation among all Downs Rachlin employees.

Doing the next right thing.

We always act with honesty and integrity. We embrace and rigorously adhere to the code of ethics. We demonstrate honesty and integrity in all interactions - within the firm, with our clients, with other attorneys and their staff and with public officials. We treat everyone with courtesy and respect.

Going the extra mile.

We recognize our responsibility to give back to our communities. As a firm, we devote time and money to activities that better the lives of those less fortunate and that support the social and cultural richness of our communities. We are committed to help maintain the quality of our courts and other branches of government and our system of justice.

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