Paul Afonso is Co-Practice Leader of the Firm’s Energy, Utilities and Environmental Group, and also leads the Boston Government Law and Strategies Group.  With 20 years of energy, legislative and regulatory experience and a strong background in international trade law, Paul is noted for his expertise in regulatory policies and legislation related to electricity, gas, water, cable television, telecommunications, pipeline engineering and safety, railway, trucking and bus services.

Paul served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy (DTE) from 2003 to 2005, and remained on the DTE board as a commissioner until joining Brown Rudnick in June 2006.  While at the DTE, Paul also served as Chairman of the Energy Facilities Siting Board, the agency charged with reviewing major generation, electric transmission, gas storage facilities and certain gas pipelines.  This agency also represents the Commonwealth before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on projects within Massachusetts that are subject to that agency's jurisdiction.  As Chairman, he oversaw the review of a key petition for the Cape Wind project, the nation's first major off-shore wind project.  He also led the review of a major infrastructure project with a 345 kV electric transmission line into the greater Boston area.

Paul is also the former General Counsel for the Massachusetts DTE, where he acted as chief legal and policy advisor to the chairman and commissioners.  In this role, he helped oversee state regulatory policies, governing rates and quality of service for electric generation, gas supply, telecommunications, cable television and transportation.

Complementing his background in state matters, Paul brings extensive experience in federal regulatory issues.  He has served as legislative liaison to federal regulatory agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  Assisting the Office of the Attorney General, he has also defended DTE orders on appeal before the Supreme Judicial Court and federal courts.

Prior to joining the DTE, Paul was in private practice and served as General Counsel to The Bristol Group, Inc. in Washington D.C.  He practiced in the areas of commercial and international trade law with an emphasis on joint venture projects, trade litigation and legislative counseling.  He represented both domestic and multinational clients before administrative agencies, federal and state courts as well as before the legislative and executive branches of government.

Paul is fluent in Portuguese and is actively involved in the Portuguese community.



Georgetown University Law Center – J.D., 1989
Boston College, Carroll School of Management – B.S. in Finance, cum laude, 1986

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia


Co-author, "Proposed CPUC penalty on San Bruno accident raises dangerous precedent," The Energy Daily, January 8, 2013
Speaking Engagements
Co-host of a weekly Portuguese-American public affairs program on WHTB 1400 AM
Professional Affiliations
Appointed by the Mayor of Boston as Chairman of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission
Appointed by the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission as a member of the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services
Appointed by Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as Vice-Chairman of the federal Joint Board on Economic Dispatch for the Northeast Region
Served as a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners on the electricity committee and as a member of the Telecommunications Legislative Task Force
Served a term as President of New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners, the regional body of New England public utility regulators
Appointed to the American Bar Association's Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice as an ex-offico member for state administrative law
Board of Directors, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Executive Director, New England Energy Alliance
Awards and Honors
Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Energy Law (2020)
Recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star, 2005-2007
Community Involvement
Board of Directors, The Portuguese Heritage Scholarship Foundation
Portuguese-American Leadership Council of the United States, Inc.