Michelle Chen is an experienced problem solver working at the intersection of law, public policy, and finance. She has extensive knowledge of real estate and land use matters from her work in government on affordable housing and community development projects in Seattle.

Before joining Stoel Rives, Michelle held several positions with the City of Seattle: general counsel with the Mayor’s Office, deputy city attorney in the City Attorney’s Office, senior policy advisor with the Office of Planning Community Development, strategic partnerships manager in the Office of the Waterfront, senior policy advisor with the Office of Policy & Management, and regional affairs manager with the Office of Intergovernmental Relations. She was also a policy & program manager with the Seattle Housing Authority. Earlier in her career, Michelle was an attorney in private practice and legislative counsel to U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.


University of Washington, J.D./Master of Public Administration, 2001

Bryn Mawr College, B.A., History and Political Science, 1994





  • Drafted emergency order and memorandum of understanding with University of Washington to stand up Seattle’s first COVID-19 drive-through testing sites
  • Developed legislation to amend the Seattle Land Use Code to implement inclusionary zoning program known as “Mandatory Housing Affordability.”
  • Drafted and reviewed contracts, interlocal agreements, and participated in negotiations and review of documents to support low-income tax credit housing development projects.
  • Negotiation of project development agreement among real estate investment trust company, development company and Seattle Public Utilities regarding the development of mixed-use retail and commercial space and residential apartments in Northgate urban center.
  • Negotiation of property use and development agreement with the Pike Place Market Public Development Authority (PPMPDA) to provide a transfer of City-owned property and $35 million to PPMPDA for the construction of the first major expansion of Pike Place Market as part of the Seattle waterfront redevelopment.
  • Negotiation and drafting of secured lending agreements involving mezzanine financing for property acquisition and residential development in seven western states for fortune 500 company.
  • Advised on entitlement process, zoning and feasibility analysis, other land use code issues.


Insights & Presentations

  • Moderator, “Future of Seattle’s Waterfront and Downtown Seattle: Shaping Tomorrow’s Downtown and Breaking through Barriers,” Bisnow, March 19, 2024.



  • Lakeside School, Board of Trustees, 2021–present
  • Bellwether Housing, Board Member, 2021–present
  • Korean Community Services Center, Board Member 2021–present
  • Leadership Tomorrow, Graduate, 2016


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