Skip to main content

About me

          In the summer of 1965, Jonathan and Deanne Ater drove a Volkswagen bus from New Haven to Portland, where Jonathan had a clerkship with Chief Judge Gus Solomon.   The next year, Jonathan started his law practice with the firm today known as Ater Wynne LLP.    The firm’s history goes back to the legendary Portland lawyer, CES Wood, whose famous words surround the Skidmore Fountain:  “Good citizens are the riches of a city.”   Ater Wynne, under Jonathan’s chairmanship, is today one of Portland’s most celebrated law firms, with a long tradition of public service.


          Two years into his law practice, Jonathan co-authored with Dick Nahstoll a 63-page City Club report “Racial Justice in Portland.”   1968 was not a good time for race relations in America.  The City Club report was published two months after Martin Luther King was assassinated.   It challenged the city’s political and business leadership in direct and blunt language that it was time to move past Oregon’s difficult race history and to create a new civic commitment to equality and opportunity.


          That same year, when Barack Obama was 7 years old, Jonathan and Deanne -  who already had three sons - adopted the first of their four mixed-race children, making their own personal commitment to racial equality.   Today, the Ater children are artists, professors, businessmen, and civic activists in their own right.   And, there are a posse of grandchildren who look like a Benneton commercial..


          Jonathan grew up in Texas, where the schools were legally segregated until he entered high school and where he saw first hand the injustices of Jim Crow.  He made a seamless transition from Amarillo High School to Yale College.   He and Deanne met on a blind date when he was a freshman and she a senior in high school.   They married at 20.   He continued into the Yale Law School, where he was on the Law Journal and elected to the Order of the Coif, the legal equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa.


          When Jonathan was 36, Governor Straub appointed him to the Board of Higher Education, where he served on the finance committee and traveled throughout Oregon to understand the important role of Oregon’s colleges and universities, and took a special interest in the future of OHSU, health care, and community organization.


          In 1992, Governor Roberts’ appointed Jonathan to chair the newly chartered Commission on Children and Families, and he continued in that role under Governor Kitzhaber.   Once again, he traveled throughout the state – to each of the 36 counties – to learn the importance of community organizations to meet the needs of Oregon’s families.


Governor Kulongoski turned to Jonathan to become co-chair of the Governor’s 2004 Mental Health Task Force and simultaneously become the vice-chair of the Oregon Health Policy Commission.   


And, when SB 329 was passed by the 2007 Legislature, Governor Kulongoski again turned to Jonathan to join the Health Fund Board, where he is one of two vice chairs.


  Jonathan also serves as a board member and former chair of the Albertina Kerr Foundation  and the Metropolitan Public Defender.  He is a board member of Axio Research LLC, a biostatistical and medical research company headquartered in Seattle.  He continues an active law practice at Ater Wynne LLP, which is widely recognized as one of Oregon’s most admired professional firms.




Practice areas


  1. Health Care: 60%
    46 years
  2. Business: 35%
    51 years
  3. Lawsuits & Disputes: 5%
    46 years

Attorney endorsements

No endorsements

Endorsements from fellow lawyers are an important consideration for many when selecting the right attorney. Be the first to endorse your colleague!

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

Contact info

Ater Wynne LLP

1331 NW Lovejoy
Suite 900
Portland, OR, 97209-3280


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Gordon and Sharon Smith New Freedom AwardNational Alliance on Mental Illness - Oregon Chapter2010
Leadership AwardOregon Business Association2009
Presidential Citation for Leadership in Health CareMedical Society of Metropolitan Portland2007
Order of the CoifYale Law School1965
Board of EditorsYale Law Journal1963
Best Lawyer, Health CareBest Lawyers in AmericaN/A
SuperLawyer, Health CareSuperLawyersN/A
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
Partner and ChairmanAter Wynne LLP1966 - Present
Law ClerkUS District Judge Gus J. Solomon1965 - 1966
Association namePosition nameDuration
Axio Research LLCBoard Member2006 - Present
Metropolitan Public Defender, Inc.Board Member2002 - Present
Multnomah Bar AssociationMemberN/A
American Bar AssociationMemberN/A
Oregon State Bar, Affirmative Action CommitteeMemberN/A
Oregon State Bar, Energy, Telecommunications & Utility Law SectionMemberN/A
Oregon State Bar, Corporate Finance SectionMemberN/A
Oregon State Bar, Health Law SectionMemberN/A
Oregon Health Fund BoardVice-Chair2007 - 2009
Albertina Kerr FoundationChair2007 - 2008
Oregon Health Policy CommissionVice-Chair2004 - 2009
Oregon Governor's Mental Health Task ForceCo-chair2003 - 2004
First Unitarian Church FoundationBoard Member2003 - 2009
Albertina Kerr CentersBoard Member2002 - 2009
Oregon Commission on Children and FamiliesChair1994 - 1998
Oregon State Board of Higher EducationMember1976 - 1980
Board of Bar ExaminersVice-Chair1973 - 1974
Board of Bar ExaminersMember1971 - 1974
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
State of Oregon v. AusmusPrevailed
See all legal cases 
Publication nameTitleDate
The OregonianA double-edged win for all Oregonians2009
Washington Healthcare NewsFixing Health Care: The Oregon Health Fund Board at Work2008
Yale Alumni Class Notes"Social Security and Medicare: Where's The Pony?"2005
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Yale Law SchoolN/ALL.B - Bachelor of Laws1965
Yale UniversityN/ABA - Bachelor of Arts1962
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Annual MeetingHealth Care Transformation in a Time of Exponential Change2009
Annual CSSI conferenceHealth Law and Health Reform2007