Chris Helmer

Degree: JD ’74
Area(s) of study:
  • Business Law
  • International Law
Type of workplace:
  • Law firm
Practice area(s):
  • Business Law
  • International Law

Chris Helmer ’74 became a partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP in 1981, a large Portland based law firm with offices in Seattle and Vancouver, Washington and Central Oregon. Although she has spent the larger part of her career at MillerNash, her path has been anything but static. Chris started her practice doing business and international admiralty litigation for the firm, dealing with ships that came into Portland from all over the world. “It was fascinating, and I particularly liked the cross-border issues and dealing with other cultures.” Eventually, Chris had fashioned a practice that involved cross-border litigation of all kinds, not just maritime, as well as cross-border contracts and essentially all aspects of doing business with and in foreign countries.

“I enjoyed my education at Lewis & Clark, particularly Conflicts of Law with Ed Brunet, but this was the 70’s, and there were no such things as classes devoted to international or cross-border issues or to foreign law.” For that reason, after Chris had practiced for 25 years, she decided to go back to law school to get an LLM in International Law. Upon her return to Portland, Chris began teaching Transnational Litigation at Lewis & Clark.

“I think every lawyer needs to know something about cross-border issues in order to competently practice law. Clients will find themselves exposed to litigation in foreign countries, and lawyers here are going to need to know how to choose and work well with foreign counsel, how to navigate and explain the differences between our legal system and the foreign system, and how to strategize with foreign alternatives in the mix. Lewis & Clark and the International Law Program give them that opportunity.”

Chris has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America for several years. She was also designated a “Super Lawyer” in the international, business litigation, and transportation/maritime practice areas by Oregon Super Lawyers magazine, published by Law & Politics, and was selected as Lewis & Clark Law School’s “Distinguished Graduate” for 2008.