The National Trust's Law Department

The National Trust's Law Department is comprised of attorneys and preservation professionals focusing on a variety of preservation law and corporate legal issues for the organization. For almost 40 years, our attorneys have spearheaded prominent preservation law cases, produced valuable legal scholarship, and achieved changes in local, state, and federal laws and policies that have resulted in new or strengthened protections for historic resources. Additionally, our staff provides guidance to preservation advocates, property owners and governmental entities on a daily basis, and frequently lectures on preservation law topics for a variety of audiences around the country.

Shantia Anderheggen
Easement Administrator

As the easement administrator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Shantia Anderheggen oversees the administration of more than 100 preservation and conservation easements held by the organization on properties located across the country.

As a member of the Law Department, Anderheggen works closely with the National Trust's attorneys to ensure that easement-protected historic properties are preserved and maintained in accordance with their legal agreements.

Prior to joining the National Trust, Anderheggen served as the historic preservation planner for the City of Newport, Rhode Island, and as the historic preservation team leader and director of stewardship at Historic New England (formerly the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities).

Anderheggen has a B.A. in Art History from the University of Rhode Island (1984) and an M.A. in Preservation Studies from Boston University (1993).

Ross M. Bradford
Associate General Counsel

Ross M. Bradford is associate general counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where he focuses primarily on enforcement issues related to the National Trust's easement program. He also provides general corporate legal services to the organization (including support for the planned giving department's Gifts of Heritage Program) and support for advocacy related matters affecting National Trust historic sites.

Bradford received a B.A. in Political Science and English Literature from Emory University and a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina and the District of Columbia.

Will Cook
Associate General Counsel

Will Cook is an associate general counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. His primary area of responsibility includes litigation advocacy on behalf of the National Trust in courts across the United States.

Recent projects include defending the use of historic tax credits, challenging federal agency approval of the world’s largest wind farm in the middle of Nantucket Sound, securing boundaries for a traditional cultural landscape in New Mexico, and supporting historic property owners against the harmful effects of massive cruise ships in the Port of Charleston.

Will also helps supervise the protection of the National Trust’s trademarks and provides general corporate law support. Prior to joining the National Trust, Will taught as an assistant professor at the Charleston School of Law in the areas of property law, constitutional law, historic preservation, and art and cultural heritage.

Will has also worked at a nationally recognized law firm and for an international auction house in New York City. While in Charleston, Will served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Preservation Society, the oldest preservation advocacy group in the nation. He lectures regularly to national audiences on issues related to property, land use, and historic preservation law.

Paul W. Edmondson
Vice President & General Counsel

As vice president and general counsel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Paul Edmondson oversees all legal services for the organization.

Edmondson directs an active program of legal advocacy and litigation in support of historic preservation, organized as the National Trust Legal Defense Fund. He also oversees the organization's in-house corporate legal services in support of its broad range of programs and activities, its regional offices, and its historic sites. In addition, Edmondson supervises the National Trust's preservation easement program, as well the organization's legal education and outreach activities.

Over a 22-year career at the National Trust, Edmondson has worked on a wide variety of legal issues pertaining to the protection of historic resources in the United States, including constitutional issues, federal preservation law matters, issues relating to local landmarks laws, tax incentives for preservation, and preservation easements. 

Edmondson received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1976 in Anthropology-Archaeology. He received his law degree from The American University in 1981.

Tom Mayes
Deputy General Counsel

Tom Mayes, deputy general counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has specialized in both corporate and preservation law since he joined the organization in 1986. He is the principal lawyer for legal matters relating to historic property real estate transactions and for the National Trust's 29 historic sites.

Mayes has developed special expertise in architectural and technical preservation issues, preservation easements, the Americans with Disabilities Act and historic shipwrecks. He is the author of several articles relating to, and has lectured widely on, preservation easements, shipwreck protection, the Americans with Disabilities Act and preservation public policy.

For several years, Mayes has taught historic preservation law at the University of Maryland Graduate Program in Historic Preservation.

Mayes received his B.A. with honors in History in 1981 and his J.D. in 1985 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mayes received an M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.

Betsy Merritt
Deputy General Counsel

Betsy Merritt is deputy general counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where she has been responsible for the National Trust's legal advocacy program for the past 25 years.

Although Merritt is known for her litigation work, having represented the National Trust in nearly 200 cases in state and federal courts, including two dozen transportation cases, she has a stronger interest in using negotiation and administrative advocacy to persuade government agencies to make more preservation-sensitive decisions, especially through consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. 

In addition to her litigation and advocacy experience, Merritt has lectured widely on preservation law, and she has testified before Congress on several occasions regarding transportation policy and other issues relating to historic preservation. She has also been directly influential in shaping legislation and regulations implementing Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. 

Merritt is a native of Seattle, Washington. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 1980, and from Mills College in Oakland, California in 1976.

Anne Nelson
Associate General Counsel

Anne Nelson is an associate general counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where her primary responsibility is providing general corporate legal services to the organization. Anne also assists with the National Trust’s advocacy efforts. Prior to joining the National Trust, Anne was general counsel at the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

Anne received a B.A. in History from Boston College and a J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Sharee Williamson
Associate General Counsel

Sharee Williamson is associate general counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Her primary areas of responsibility include litigation, policy advocacy and providing corporate legal support to the National Main Street Center and Preservation Green Lab. Prior to joining the National Trust, Sharee spent six years as a litigation associate in Saint Louis, Missouri. She has also provided environmental research and policy assistance to an environmental law research institute in Washington, D.C. Sharee received her J.D. from Washington University School of Law and is licensed to practice law in Maryland, Missouri and the District of Columbia.

General Inquiries

General preservation law inquiries may be submitted to the Law Department via e-mail to Please include a detailed description of any relevant facts or issues in the body of your e-mail along with any other materials that may be helpful. Inquiries are also accepted via mail or fax:

National Trust for Historic Preservation
Law Department
2600 Virginia Avenue, NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20037
Phone: 202-588-6035
Fax: 202-588-6272