Michael Lee Is a husband, father of four, commercial real estate and land use attorney, and former State Senator for District 9. Michael also has served at the County and State level on public boards, and is a current and former member of numerous nonprofit boards. 


Highlights of Michael Lee's public service and experience, and the track record of successful legislation that Michael will bring back to the NC Senate, can be found below.



     Married to Heidi Wooten Lee and together they have four wonderful children; Miles, Sydney, Sam, and Sawyer.

    Founded Lee | Kaess, PLLC (formerly Lee Law Firm, PLLC) in 2012, after leaving a large southeastern law firm. Lee | Kaess has expanded to include attorneys in Wilmington, Raleigh and Dallas, Texas, working in commercial real estate, trusts and estates, land use and litigation.

    Selected as 2020 Best Lawyers "Lawyer of the Year" for Commercial Real Estate in Wilmington 

    Elected to Business North Carolina magazine's "Legal Elite"for 2020

    Wake Forest University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1997

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A. 1991

    Attended University of North Carolina Wilmington

    Graduate of the Wilmington Leadership Institute

    Admitted to Bar in NC and SC


    Two terms in North Carolina Senate, from 2014 to 2018

    Adopted balanced, fiscally responsible state budgets that fund core services, strengthen public education, shore up savings reserves and grow North Carolina’s economy.


    Tripled film industry incentives during tenure

    Simplified and cut the franchise tax on small businesses

    Co-sponsored the Hurricane Florence Act, and brought in over $100 million in extra relief aid for Hurricane Matthew

    Delivered major additional tax relief, which, when fully implemented will result in 99 percent of tax payers paying less or no personal state income personal taxes

    Wrote the Water Safety Act recognized by leading scientists for it’s comprehensive approach to protecting our drinking water

    Find a more extensive list of Michael's NC Senate service  highlights below >>>


    Hunt-Kean Institute ​Education Policy Fellow, 2019

    Exceptional Education for Exceptional Children from Parents for Educational Freedom in NC, 2019

    First in Teaching: Elevating Educators for Student Success from the Education Innovation Lab, 2018

    Leadership Award from the College Board, 2018

     Legislative Champion from NC Public School Options, 2018

    Appointed to Council on Educational Services for Exceptional Children, 2018

    Appointed to Education Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference of State Governments, 2017 

    Nominated to National Conferences of State Legislators "Legislative Institute on School Choice: The Next Chapter," 2017

    Education All Star Award from Education Freedom Alliance, 2016


    North Carolina Port Authority Board of Directors, Chairman 

    North Carolina Department of Transportation, Board Member

    North Carolina Courts Commission, Member

    B-3 Interagency Counsel Member

    Hunt Institute, Board Member


    University of North Carolina Wilmington, Board of Trustees


    Holshauser Legislative Retreat for the Hunt Institute, Co-Chair (current) 

    University of North Carolina Wilmington, Adjunct Professor 


    City of Wilmington, Board of Adjustment

    Carousel Center for Abused Children, Board of Directors

    NC State Logistics Strategic Planning Subcommittee, Member

    National Assembly of Sportmen's Caucuses


  • Named A 2019 Hunt-Kean Institute Education Policy Fellow

    Michael was among only 19 national leaders selected to attend the Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows Program in Austin, TX, this Summer.  Co-founded by former NC Governor Jim Hunt, the fellowship is considered the premier bipartisan education policy program in the United States.  Michael has fought tirelessly for the education rights of our children.

    Michael has also joined the Board of the Hunt Institute.

  • Michael and firm recognized by 2020 Best Lawyers® and Business North Carolina®

    Michael Lee has been selected as the 2020 Best Lawyers ® Commercial Real Estate “Lawyer of the Year” in Wilmington, NC. Michael has also been elected to Business North Carolina ® magazine's "Legal Elite" for 2020.


    Michael's law firm, Lee | Kaess, PLLC, has been named by Best Lawyers® as a 2020 Tier 1 “Best Law Firm” for Commercial Real Estate in Wilmington, as well!

  • Appointed to University of North Carolina Wilmington Board of Trustees

    Michael Lee was appointed to the UNCW Board of Trustees in June 2019. “Mr. Lee and Dr. Sayed will be outstanding additions to our Board of Trustees,” Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli said. “Their roles as dedicated public servants set a terrific example for our students in terms of being actively engaged in the community. I look forward to working with them, and the rest of our stellar board, to achieve our collective goals as outlined in UNCW’s Strategic Plan.” 

  • 2018 NC APSE Legislator of the Year - Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

    NC APSE (Association for People Supporting Employment First), supports increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  Senator Lee was awarded NC APSE's Legislator of the Year Award for establishing and co-Chairing the Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, which focuses on improving employment and educational opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities   




  • Adopted a balanced, fiscally responsible state budget that funds core services, strengthens public education, shores up savings reserves and grows North Carolina’s economy.

  • Delivered major additional tax relief that will save middle class families and small businesses $530 million over the next two years. When fully implemented, the reductions will result in 99 percent of taxpayers either paying less or paying no state personal income taxes at all.

  • Continued the business tax reforms that have helped create more than half a million new jobs since 2011 by further reducing corporate income tax rates and simplifying and cutting the franchise tax on small businesses.

  • Exempted retired military veterans from paying state income taxes on their pensions.

  • Ensured the state is well prepared for the future by increasing the rainy day fund to its highest total ever. The savings reserve is now at $1.838 billion, the highest figure in state history. Lawmakers also increased the amount of state funds automatically going into savings each year. 




  • Increased funding for public education by more than $700 million over the next two years and continued major education reforms to reduce class sizes and ensure students receive the tools they need to succeed.

  • Continued a multiple-year plan to dramatically increase teacher pay, providing teachers an average 3.3 percent raise this year and 9.6 percent raise over two years, while also ensuring they earn far more over the course of their careers. The Senate also provided substantial pay raises to school principals and assistant principals.

  • Provided additional performance-based bonuses to more public school teachers who help improve academic outcomes for their students.

  • Acted to make college far more affordable and accessible by fully funding the N.C. Promise Program, which guarantees in-state undergraduate students at three schools across the state pay just $500 per semester for tuition.

  • Added thousands of slots to the state’s pre-K program and eliminated 75 percent of the waitlist for at-risk children. 

  • Created a new North Carolina Teaching Fellows program to attract and retain new teachers to low-performing schools and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math courses.

  • Allocated more than $100 million in lottery funds to assist economically struggling, rural counties with critical public school building needs.  




  • Expanded tools to recruit new businesses to the state, including ‘transformative projects’ that could employ thousands of North Carolinians.

  • Passed sweeping changes to the state’s burdensome regulatory environment to cut through red tape that chokes off economic growth.

  • Joined 47 other states with modernized ABC laws, helping boost the state’s restaurant and tourism industry. 

  • Invested hundreds of millions of dollars in pay raises and bonuses for hardworking state employees and a permanent cost-of-living adjustment for state retirees.

  • Invested hundreds of millions of additional dollars for transportation, including a $320 million increase to the Strategic Transportation Investments Program (STIP) to allow 100 new highway projects to be built over a ten-year period, improving mobility and safety, reducing congestion and spurring economic development. In addition, hundreds of structurally deficient bridges will be replaced and thousands of miles of roads resurfaced.



  • Funded much-needed additional positions in the state court system, including dozens of new deputy clerks of court and assistant district attorneys.

  • Passed and sent the House a measure to deter ‘sanctuary cities’ in North Carolina by creating penalties for local governments, law enforcement agencies and public universities that defy federal and state laws against illegal immigration.

  • Helped combat the opioid addiction crisis by passing the STOP Act to ensure highly addictive prescription drugs are responsibly administered and not over-prescribed. Lawmakers also directed $10 million toward statewide opioid and substance abuse treatment.

  • Began the process to “raise the age,” aligning North Carolina with the overwhelming majority of states that try 16- and 17-year olds suspected of misdemeanor offenses and less serious felonies as juveniles.

  • Strengthened laws against human trafficking and laws to increase awareness of the warning signs of trafficking.



  • Tripled Film Incentive Dollars while in office.

  • Wrote the Water Safety Act recognized by leading scientists for it’s comprehensive approach to protecting our drinking water.

  • Sponsored the Hurricane Florence Recovery Act that was signed into law.

  • Helped ensure our state ethics and elections laws are enforced fairly by creating a bipartisan ethics and elections enforcement board with appointments evenly split between the two major political parties in the state.

  • Completed a thorough and transparent confirmation hearing process of the governor’s cabinet secretaries, where senators evaluated their qualifications, possible conflicts of interest and willingness to follow the law.

  • Overhauled North Carolina’s social service system to address substantial issues in North Carolina’s child welfare program to ensure the safety of kids.

  • Provided an additional $100 million in needed disaster relief assistance to families and communities devastated by Hurricane Matthew.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram