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Christian P. Dietrich I Attorney I Neilson, Swanson, Dietrich, Smith, PLLC


Christian advises clients on conservation real estate transactions, laws relating to tax-exempt organizations and their donors, and related areas.  He specializes in perpetual conservation easement transactions and on serving the legal needs of land trust organizations.

Before co-founding Neilson, Swanson, Dietrich, Smith, PLLC, Christian served as General Counsel for the Montana Land Reliance, one of the nation's preeminent land trusts.  In addition to the interpretation and defense of a million-plus-acre conservation easement portfolio at MLR, he successfully advised on over 100 completed conservation easement transactions protecting more than 250,000 acres of Montana's agricultural lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and open space. Christian speaks and writes frequently on conservation easements in Montana and around the country, serves on the national Land Trust Alliance's Conservation Defense Advisory Council, and is the co-author of Conservation Easements: Tax and Real Estate Planning for Landowners and Advisors (American Bar Association, 2011).

Christian is excited to return to serving the broader nonprofit community as well.  He is the longtime Chair of the Nonprofit Law Section of the State Bar of Montana, and advises nonprofit organizations and their donors on a wide variety of issues relating to the life cycle of a nonprofit organization, including obtaining and maintaining tax exemption, governance and corporate structure, strategic planning, and charitable gift planning from both the donor and organizational perspectives.

After growing up in Missoula, Christian received the Cook Scholarship to attend St. Paul’s School (NH) and graduated from Yale University before returning to the University of Montana School of Law.  Prior to moving in-house with the Montana Land Reliance, Christian spent five years in private practice at a busy mid-size firm in Helena.

Christian is a fifth-generation Montanan and is married to his law school sweetheart, Michelle.  He enjoys hiking, backpacking, disc golf, reading, and the rare times when his new puppy is behaving himself.

Christian is based in Helena and looks forward to serving clients around Montana and the West.

Practice Areas

-Land conservation

-Real estate transactions, negotiations, and consulting

-Nonprofit organizations and social enterprises

-Charitable giving and estate planning

-Simple trust and estate planning and probate

-General business and transactional law

-Tax and real estate advice, litigation, and audit support

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