Christopher B. Wells

Shareholder | Seattle | 206.223.7084 |

Areas of Practice

Chris Wells heads the Securities Broker-Dealer industry team. Chris concentrates his practice on commercial litigation focusing on securities, business fraud, intellectual property, employment contract and commercial disputes, corporate and partnership duties, professional liability, and multi-district class actions.

Chris has over forty years of trial and litigation experience representing clients in securities, employment, covenant not to compete, trade secrets, unfair competition, trademark, defamation and other business disputes. He has experience assisting clients in alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration. Chris has been an arbitrator for the AAA, FINRA, NASD, NYSE and King County Superior Court. He is also a member of the Securities Industry Association Compliance and Legal Division. Chris has represented many firms and individuals in investigations and enforcement proceedings brought by securities regulators.

Prior to joining Lane Powell, Chris served as a trial attorney for the United States Army in Heidelberg, Germany, from 1974-77 and as an enforcement attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from 1977-82.

Chris was a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants from 1981 to 2009.

Professional Experience

Over Forty Years of Trial and Litigation Experience

  • 1982-Present – Over thirty years in private practice with Lane Powell representing securities brokers, banks, insurers, medical products companies, retailers, distributors and other businesses and professionals in forums such as federal or state courts and NASD or AAA arbitrations. Experience includes roughly one hundred trials, FINRA, and AAA hearings as counsel or arbitrator (has also served as counsel or arbitrator in Washington State statutory arbitrations).
  • 1977-1982 – Nearly five years of discovery, motion and civil litigation practice as Enforcement Attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Seattle, Washington. Prosecuted SEC civil injunctive cases in federal courts in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Nevada and Washington. Became a Certified Public Accountant in 1981.
  • 1974-1977 – Three years of intensive trial practice in U.S. Army JAGC in Heidelberg, Germany. Over 30 bench and jury trials of crimes such as murder, assault, robbery, black marketing, mail fraud, drug trafficking and other offenses under the UCMJ.
  • Limited French and German

Admitted to Practice

  • Washington
  • Kansas (inactive)


  • Certified Public Accountant, Washington, 1981-2009
  • University of Kansas (J.D., 1973; B.S. and B.A., 1970)
  • Winner of Advocacy Competition at Kansas Law School, 1972
  • Letter of Commendation on Appellate Brief from TJAG, United States Army, 1976
  • Scholarship, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1965

Practice Group and Specialty Team Memberships

  • Class Action Defense
  • Intellectual Property and Technology
  • Litigation
  • Investigations and Regulatory Compliance
  • Securities Regulation
  • Securities Litigation

Representative Matters

Representative Clients

  • A.G. Edwards. (Local counsel)
  • Banc of America Investment Services, Inc. and Banc of America Securities LLC. (Local counsel in customer and recruiting cases)
  • Datek Online. (Local counsel)
  • InterSecurities, Inc. (Defended customer claims in Idaho court and NASD arbitration)
  • Jefferson Pilot Securities Corp. (Handled matters in the Pacific Northwest, Southeastern, Midwestern and Western United States)
  • Lincoln National Life Insurance Company of Indiana. (Defended industry and customer claims in Pacific Northwest)
  • McDonald Investments. (Local counsel in recruiting cases)
  • Morgan Stanley. (Outside Regional Counsel for states in the Pacific Northwest)
  • Nathan and Lewis Securities. (Special counsel on Virginia matters)
  • Pershing. (Local counsel)
  • Sentra Securities Corporation. (Defended in MDL class action, advised in recruiting matters nationwide, and served as local counsel defending customer claims)
  • Shearson Lehman Hutton. (Moved several cases from court to arbitration and advised in-house counsel; helped local manager avoid CBOE disciplinary action; have represented individual brokers associated with Salomon Smith Barney)
  • Titan Value Equities Corporation (now Mutual Service Corp.) (Local counsel)
  • Wachovia Securities. (formerly First Union – defended industry recruiting cases)
  • Walnut Street Securities. (Local counsel)
  • Wedbush Securities. (Handled several arbitrations and assisted in regulatory matter)
  • Wells Fargo Advisers. (Local counsel)
  • World Group Securities. (Defended customer cases in Pacific Northwest for WGS and predecessor, WMA Securities.

Publications and Speaking Engagements

  • “SEC Won $7.5 M Forfeiture on Recycled Claims, DC Circ. Told,” Law360, Quoted (February 19, 2015)
  • “2nd Circ. to Test Flexibility of FINRA Arbitration Rule,” Law360, Quoted (April 17, 2014)
  • “Scaffold for Debt Reduction and Spending Control,” The Hill’s Congress Blog (December 18, 2013)
  • “Advisor Perspective: Disputes Between Customers and Investment Advisors,” The Seminar Group’s Investment Advisors: Best Practices in Securities Enforcement and Litigation CLE Seminar (May 23, 2013)
  • “New FINRA Arbitration Program Strives For Flexibility,” Law360, Quoted (July 3, 2012)
  • “Departing Employees and Intellectual Property,” Law Seminars International, Co-author and speaker (2009)
  • “Recent Broker-Dealer Developments in FINRA Regulation, Arbitration and Litigation,” Northwest Securities Institute, Co-author and speaker (2009)
  • “Defending Claims Brought By Regulators,” National Business Institute Seminar, Author and speaker (2008)
  • “The Liability of Representing Financial Interests,” The Seminar Group CLE, Program co-chair and speaker (November 3, 2006)
  • “Corporate Trade Secret Protection in Washington,” National Business Institute CLE, Co-author and speaker (January 12, 2004)
  • “Money Troubles: Pursuing and Defending Claims Against Stockbrokers and Brokerage Firms,” King County Bar Association CLE, Co-author and speaker (November 8, 2001)
  • “Competing for Talent and Protecting Business Value:  Non-Compete Agreements and Trade Secret Law in Washington,” Washington State Bar Association’s Fifth Annual Intellectual Property Institute, Co-author and speaker (March 24, 2000)
  • “Stockholder Lawsuits – Inviting and Avoiding Them,” Washington State Bar Association Business Law Institute, Co-author and speaker (March 2-3, 2000)
  • “Representing the High Technology Firm,” King County Bar Association, Co-chair; Competing for Talent and Protecting Business Value: Non-Compete Agreements and Trade Secret Law in Washington, Author and speaker (October 20, 1999)
  • “Stockbroker Fraud in Washington: Defenses Utilized by the Stockbroker or Broker/Dealer,” National Business Institute Seminar, Author and speaker (October 5, 1999)
  • “Stockbroker Litigation:  Pursuing and Defending Claims Against Stockbrokers and Brokerage Firms,” King County Bar Association CLE, Author and speaker (November 6, 1998)
  • “The Nuts and Bolts, Putting Together a Fraud Case,” Washington State Bar Association CLE, The Lawyer as Detective, Author and speaker (December 1997)
  • “Ethical Issues Often Encountered in Securities Matters,” Seventeenth Annual Northwest Securities Institute, February, Author and panelist (1997)
  • “Litigation Update, Broker-Dealer Control Person Liability After Hollinger v. Titan Capital,” Eleventh Annual Northwest Securities Institute, Co-author and panelist (February 1991)

Awards and Honors

  • AV Preeminent® in Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™
  • Named as a “Washington Super Lawyer,” Super Lawyers® magazine, Securities Litigation (2014-2016)

Professional and Community Activities

  • King County Bar Foundation, Board of Directors
  • Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants
  • Seattle Economists Club
  • American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants