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I have over 30 years of experience as an attorney in San Francisco and the Bay Area, where I have developed a broad base of expertise in business law, real estate law, conservation law, and nonprofit and charity law, culminating in a long career as the chief lawyer of The Trust for Public Land.  This range of experience allows me to advise comfortably in a wide range of situations.  I enjoy finding simple solutions to complex challenges. I am also priviliged to serve as Of Counsel to MontyWhite LLP, with offices in San Rafael and Santa Rosa.

I advise individuals, nonprofits and businesses on conservation law, nonprofit law, estate planning and real estate law.

Nelson Lee has been practicing law in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1978.  He was trained in business law and real estate law as an attorney at some of the top law firms in San Francisco, including Morrison & Foerster. Nelson is rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell, based on peer reviews, the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards. His is also rated a Top Rated Lawyer in Real Estate Law by Martindale Hubbell and the American Lawyer Media.


For 26 years (23 of them as General Counsel) he served as an attorney for The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization based in San Francisco.  From its founding in 1972 the Trust has completed over 4,000 land transactions around the country. 


At a transaction attorney at TPL Nelson specialized in real estate acquisitions and dispositions, and in transactions involving the use of conservation easements.  He handled the legal work on many complicated transactions, often involving land use approvals and environmental contamination issues. He also advised on the income and estate tax consequences of transactions involving charitable donations, including bargain sale transactions.


As General Counsel, he provided corporate services to the organization in the areas of: planned giving, employment law, retirement plan administration, management of trust assets, corporate governance, insurance and risk management, copyright and trademark, and corporate formation, operation and dissolution. In addition, he has substantial experience with governmental relations (state and federal levels), litigation oversight, human resources and risk management.


Nelson was educated at Oberlin College (B.A), Yale University (M.A., East Asian Studies), and the University of Iowa (J.D.), where he served as Articles Editor of the Iowa Law Review.


Nelson is a passionate conservationist and believes in approaching land conservation issues with respect for the interests of private landowners, seeking mutually satisfying solutions.  He is also interested in assisting the Spanish-speaking communities of Marin County, and proudly serves on the board of directors of the Canal Alliance.

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