Chris Helmer, a partner at Miller Nash, is one of those unusual attorneys who maintains both a litigation and a business practice. She started practicing in the admiralty area, litigating charter party, collision, cargo damage, marine financing, and longshoremen’s personal injury cases. Much of that work involved international issues. Chris’s maritime practice developed into one which included drafting charter parties, ship construction/sale contracts, and marine financing documentation, as well as documenting vessels both domestically and in “flag of convenience” countries. As the Oregon economy changed, so did Chris’s practice. During the late 1980’s, she represented the FSLIC, closing down insolvent savings and loan associations and bringing civil actions against their officers, directors, borrowers, and insurers. Litigating partnership dissolutions, real estate transactions gone awry, fraud claims, and a variety of business disputes followed, as did an active practice assisting clients to mitigate risk by understanding and clearly drafting their contracts in the first place.
When Oregon’s global business reach expanded significantly in the 1990’s, Chris moved to New York for ten months to obtain her LL.M. in international law from Columbia University, all the while maintaining a reduced practice and serving, through Miller Nash, as in-house counsel to a Daimler-Benz subsidiary located in the New York metropolitan area. In addition to an active transnational and domestic litigation practice, Chris currently serves a number of multi-national and smaller businesses and nonprofits with their international needs—entering foreign markets using subsidiaries, joint ventures, distribution networks, or simply sales; managing difficult foreign litigation; and arbitrating international claims before foreign and domestic arbitral bodies.
Following joint passions for the decorative arts and higher education, Chris serves on the board of the Oregon College of Art and Craft, as well as Lewis & Clark Law School’s Board of Visitors. Chris recently concluded service on the Board and Executive Committee of the Oregon chapter of the World Affairs Council, the largest and most active United States nonprofit devoted to world affairs. She chaired WAC’s Board in 2004-2005. Chris previously served on the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors, an elected position, and the Oregon State Board of Bar Examiners, an Oregon Supreme Court appointment. She also served a six-year term on the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, a United States District Court of Oregon appointment. Chris regularly teaches Transnational Litigation and Arbitration at Lewis & Clark Law School.
Chris received her bachelor’s degree in English, magna cum laude, from Washington State University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her law degree, cum laude, from Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College and her LL.M. in international law from Columbia University.
Presentations and Publications
Chris has been a featured speaker at the Practising Law Institute’s (PLI) 2007 International Litigation and Arbitration conference in New York City for the past three years. She recently updated her 2001 supplement to the “Oregon International Commercial Arbitration and Conciliation Act” chapter of the Oregon State Bar’s Arbitration and Mediation treatise. Chris authored the United States portion of Arrest of Ships, published by Lloyd’s of London Press, and “Has China Adopted the UCC?,” published in the CIETAC Arbitration Journal. She also taught as a guest lecturer at Xiamen University in China. (from http://www.millernash. com/showbio.aspx?Show=170)
Ms. Helmer was presented with the Distinguished Alumni award at Lewis & Clark Law School in 2008.