Professional and Civic Activities
Admitted to Practice
Lee Davis Kell
Lee Kell’s appreciation of his firm’s client base runs a bit deeper than other Kell, Alterman & Runstein, L.L.P. lawyers. After all, many clients have been with the firm since his father, Ray, roamed the hallways in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.
“Most people hire lawyers who fit their personality, and our personal approach tends to attract clients with a personal stake in their companies’ success, usually owner-operators,” he says. “It’s our job to contribute to their success. We often work together for two or three generations.”
Putting a high value on loyalty and character is one of the many qualities that carried over from the small two-person practice of Ray Kell and Cliff Alterman to the current mid-size firm. Lee joined Kell, Alterman & Runstein, L.L.P. in 1969 at the request of Ray and Cliff after Lee was licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The New York University law school graduate has spent the ensuing decades combining his accounting acumen with a comprehensive knowledge of business planning to help his clients chart their companies’ growth well into the future.
He finds his accounting background a particularly important part of his practice, as it gives him a deeper understanding of his clients’ needs. “Accounting is an integral part of business—it’s really the guts of the discipline—and I call upon that knowledge often to anticipate internal problems and offer solutions,” Lee says.
Lee’s calm, pragmatic demeanor carries over to his work in the areas of acquisitions, employee benefits, real estate, contracts, and government relations. He’s particularly occupied with companies and governmental agencies in the solid waste industry, though he professes no favoritism among his practice areas or client types.
Having been with the firm for more than three decades, Lee is occasionally asked by clients if he’s considering retirement. His answer, however, is always the same—not anytime soon. “Every day is an adventure and a brand-new experience,” he says. “I know too much and I’m having too much fun.”
That enthusiasm extends to his off-hours as well, which he pursues with a similar vigor. He owns five collector cars—a ’77 MGB, ’65 Mustang, ’54 Mercury, ’35 Hudson TerraPlane, and ’72 Volvo 1800E Coupe—and often takes time off in pursuit of salmon and steelhead. He and his family also regularly drive their motor home from Portland to Eugene in the fall for University of Oregon football games.