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All attorneys strive to connect on a personal level with their clients, but it’s especially critical in the estate planning field, where clients have to grapple with the complexities of setting up wills and trusts while also confronting their own mortality. Fortunately, for Paul Raney’s clients, connecting with people has never been a problem for Paul. “I like helping people with issues that really matter to them, and estate planning deals with my clients’ most intimate concerns, namely death, money, and family,” he explains. “The decisions are ultimately theirs, but I can help them relax and work through the process. I love the moment when the client sits back and realizes ‘Okay, I can do this. This works.’”
Paul is recognized for his ability to create imaginative, thoughtful solutions for clients in his estate planning and business practice. “We can provide a simple and straightforward plan when that’s what the client needs,” he explains, “and we can use the most innovative and creative planning tools for clients who have more complex needs and goals.” Among Paul’s key assets are his variety of interests and his wealth of experience in different legal environments. “Expertise in the law is critical, especially in a complex area like estate planning,” he says, “but the broader your background the more you can bring to the table.”
A quick scan of Paul’s resume proves the point. His undergraduate studies included a variety of disciplines, concentrating in history, economics, and urban planning. In his legal career, Paul has held a prestigious federal clerkship, worked as a litigator at one of Atlanta’s largest law firms, and practiced law on his own for more than a decade. He has also traveled overseas and lived in the Northeast, the South, and the Northwest, all of which helps him relate to the diverse clients he serves. “Everyone has a unique story,” Paul says, “and it’s always interesting to hear a client tell it and then figure out how we can help.”
It was that same passion for people and problem solving that led Paul to join Kell, Alterman & Runstein, L.L.P. in 2007. “This firm is unusual in that there’s a very broad practice among all the partners despite the relatively small size,” Paul says. “There’s a terrific depth of knowledge and experience here, and there’s almost no legal issue we can’t handle. That gives clients the confidence to put their trust in our firm, no matter what legal challenge they are facing.”
Knowing all this, it’s not surprising that Paul is a self-described Thomas Jefferson buff, admiring the author of the Declaration of Independence and two-term President of the United States for his breadth of intellectual curiosity, which extended from government to horticulture to architecture. Paul attended the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded in 1819, and even lived in the historic campus rooms that Jefferson designed. “They talk about ‘Mr. Jefferson’ there as though he just stepped out for a stroll and will be right back,” he says with a laugh. Paul has lived in Portland since 1994 and enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching baseball, and listening to jazz.