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This blog is updated by San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm. The blog is designed to educate consumers about their rights under the Bankruptcy Code.

Bankruptcy can STOP FORECLOSURE, ELIMINATE DEBT AND PROTECT YOUR ASSETS! Call us for a free consultation at 877-GOBK619 or 619-260-1800. Visit us at

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Friday, July 30, 2010

The San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm Will Serve Clients Affected by the Closing of Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center

The San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm announces that it will serve clients that may have been affected by the "winding down" of Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center and will only charge the client the remainder of what they already owe Pacific Law Center.

"The San Diego Bankruptcy Law firm has offered to serve clients of Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center that may have been affected by the closing" San Diego, CA (PRWEB) July 30, 2010

On June 30, 2010 the Union Tribune published an article entitled: Pacific Law Center "winding down," not adding clients. The Bankruptcy Attorneys at the San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm have noticed an increase in inquiries from clients of Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center. "We probably receive a couple of calls a week from individuals who are concerned about their case," says Todd Williams and Scott Schlegel who own the San Diego Bankruptcy Firm.

As a result of the demand the San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm, with offices in Mission Valley, has offered to serve clients of Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center that may have been affected by the "winding down" of Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center and will only charge new clients the remainder of what they owe to Pacific Law Center. "Essentially, we can substitute in at no additional cost to the client," says Mr. Williams.

We think it is our obligation as professionals and as attorneys here in San Diego to help protect San Diegans when they need it most. "The last thing someone facing bankruptcy needs is to feel abandoned or to have to hire another attorney to finish something that has been partially paid for, especially when they are financially burdened already," says Maureen Enmark a bankruptcy attorney with the San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm].

Pacific Law Center has indicated that "it is well-equipped to represent existing clients to the fullest" and the San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm does not wish to interfere with clients that are pleased with their representation. However, for those that feel that they have been affected please feel free to contact us immediately to set up a free consultation at 619-260-1800, toll free at 877-GO-BK-619 or visit us on the web at

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We Take Abandoned Kerry Steigerwalt Pacific Law Center Clients

San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm at will take clients abandoned by Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center. We will only charge you what you owe to Pacific Law Center. Call us today as this offer is limited. Please see the latest article to surface about Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center in the San Diego Reader. 619-260-1800

It Wasn’t the Economy, Stupid
By Don Bauder | Published Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The heavily advertised Pacific Law Center was once San Diego’s best-known law firm, but its most controversial. Two years ago, Kerry Steigerwalt, a criminal lawyer who is regularly quoted on local television, gained control of the firm and changed its name to Kerry Steigerwalt’s Pacific Law Center. It became a household name.

In a deposition for a lawsuit filed against the center last year, Steigerwalt claimed that the firm’s previous owners had wooed him and fed him false information. He said he was the “fall guy.”

Steigerwalt has indeed fallen. The firm, which specializes in driving-under-the-influence, personal injury, and defective-product cases, while purportedly counseling those with financial woes, intends to take no new cases but will wrap up old ones and eventually close down. Just recently, the Yellow Book sued the firm, saying it hasn’t paid for more than $200,000 in advertising. UTC Properties has also sued, saying the firm hasn’t paid rent at its posh La Jolla suite since the beginning of the year and owes almost $200,000.

Tom Slattery, a former lawyer at the firm, filed a massive complaint about its practices with the California State Bar, sending copies to state officials including the attorney general’s office. Some current and former lawyers say that the bar is probing the matter, but the bar won’t confirm that. Last week, Slattery filed suit against the firm, claiming that early this year, Steigerwalt’s firm was trying to stave off an “imminent collapse.”

The law firm has a D+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, generating 79 complaints in three years. That D+ is a slight improvement on an earlier F rating. Since 2004, there have been more than 40 superior court suits filed against the firm under both its names.

Steigerwalt blames most of his problems on the weak economy forcing criminal defendants to go to public defenders. But the inescapable truth is that he didn’t do his homework when taking over Pacific Law Center. On June 30, a new law firm registered with the secretary of state: Steigerwalt Law Firm, APC.

One key suit was filed in 2008 by Carl Hancock, who worked for Pacific Law Center for only nine months. The suit charged that Steigerwalt’s entrance into the firm was a “sham sales transaction for the purpose of protecting the assets” of the firm’s founders, Larry Majors, his son Austin Majors, and son-in-law Jeffrey Phillips, a Phoenix attorney. Hancock settled the suit early this year.

Another suit was filed last year by Dagoberto Llamas, who alleged he was blatantly cheated by the firm, which took big bucks from him to handle a criminal case in which he was charged with driving under the influence, battery, hit and run, and contempt of court. He was initially assured he could win the case but subsequently told it was hopeless. Llamas’s case against the law firm was handled by well-known criminal attorney Michael Pancer, his son Ian, and Doug Gilliland.

The suit says that the business model of both Kerry Steigerwalt’s Pacific Law Center and its predecessor “is the brainchild of a convicted felon and car dealer from Arizona named Larry Majors. After serving time for fraud in Arizona, Majors, a non-lawyer, opened a law firm in San Antonio, Texas, using a down-on-his-luck lawyer.… Majors launched a massive television advertising campaign to attract clients.” But Majors fled Texas after a bankruptcy judge called the firm “a borderline criminal enterprise.”

Then, according to the Pancer team’s account, Majors set up shop in San Diego with a lawyer who was eventually disbarred. Majors vamoosed when Texas authorities charged him with absconding with clients’ money. In 1993, Pacific Law Center opened in San Diego with son Austin Majors as executive director. The office was in La Jolla, but the listed address was that of son-in-law Jeffrey Phillips’s Phoenix law firm.

There has always been controversy about who owned and ran Pacific Law Center. According to Slattery’s testimony, Phillips was the owner. When Steigerwalt came in two years ago, he put in no money and got 51 percent of the firm, although at around the same time he gave part of his own practice to Phillips. Steigerwalt claims that Robert Arentz, then a member of Phillips’s Arizona firm and also one who hung around the La Jolla firm, had 100 percent of Pacific Law Center and then 49 percent of the successor after Steigerwalt took control. In any case, Phillips basically ran Pacific Law Center, according to the Llamas and Slattery suits. Phillips did not respond to calls, and Arentz would not comment.

Phillips and Arentz have run into trouble with the State Bar of Arizona for using the same tactics that the San Diego firm used, both pre- and post-Steigerwalt. Phillips was censured and placed on two years of intensive probation by the Arizona bar in 2002. One of the reasons: so-called “intake personnel at his firm” who interviewed potential clients and failed to identify themselves as non-lawyers.

Late last year, the Arizona bar acted again: it recommended that Phillips be suspended for six months and a day and Arentz be suspended for 60 days. The bar said that the two “acted for their own immense financial benefit, overusing non-attorney employees for inappropriate tasks…to squeeze every last penny out of their clients.”

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld Arentz’s suspension but agreed to review Phillips’s. The bar had investigated 22 complaints, mainly on aggressive sales practices of non-attorney personnel.

And that goes to the heart of the complaints against Kerry Steigerwalt’s Pacific Law Center and its predecessor, both of which spent almost $5 million a year on advertising, according to Llamas’s suit. So-called “intake coordinators,” later called “legal administrators” (similar to those used by Larry Majors in Texas and Phillips in Arizona), greet the often impecunious people who have been swayed by the advertising.

According to the Pancer team, the intake coordinators are often former car salesmen who con the clients, asking initially for a high price and then coming down when meeting resistance. “The fee is based on how much the client is able to pay, not on traditionally recognized criteria such as complexity or novelty of legal issues and consumption of attorney time,” says the suit, which was dismissed on summary judgment and is now on appeal. Pacific Law Center’s intake coordinator told Llamas that the firm wins 90 percent of its Department of Motor Vehicles hearings, when the figure is actually 25 percent.

If Llamas would pay the firm’s price, the coordinator said he could guarantee Llamas would not lose his driver’s license, according to the suit. But in the end, an attorney told Llamas his case was indefensible and he should plead guilty.

The Llamas, Slattery, and Hancock suits stress that the sales personnel engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

Under rules of the California bar, a lawyer has to sign a retainer agreement in front of a client. But at Pacific Law Center, the lawyer who signed the document would say he was not the one who would handle the case. Thus, the potential client did not learn his rights or the strength of the case from an attorney handling it. Steigerwalt said in his deposition that he changed this procedure but couldn’t remember when.

In his deposition, Steigerwalt said Pacific Law Center lawyers “were schleps,” according to the Llamas suit. Also, Steigerwalt admitted that he knew of the pressure tactics used by the intake coordinators. But he didn’t change things significantly, say the Llamas and Slattery suits. Indeed, Steigerwalt, said in the Slattery suit to make $900,000 yearly, was constantly checking to see if the firm was bringing in the daily gross receipts it needed to keep its head above water.

Says Steigerwalt, “In forming [Kerry Steigerwalt’s Pacific Law Center] I realized there were challenges. I just did not realize the extent of those challenges.”

He won’t answer questions about the Llamas suit because it was dismissed. Ripostes Michael Pancer, “It is true that the summary judgment motion was granted, but that does not affect the validity of statements made under oath in support of our lawsuit.” That includes deposition statements made by Steigerwalt.

Says Pancer, “I will give Kerry Steigerwalt the benefit of the doubt when he claims he wanted to turn [Pacific Law Center] around. But it was obvious to those of us who practice criminal defense that the business model was ethically flawed and could not be saved no matter what his best intentions were.” Steigerwalt’s adventure represented a “desire for profit overwhelming good judgment.”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center Closing---San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm Will Help Abandoned Clients

Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center appears to be closing down. Bankruptcy Attorneys at the San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm will take abandoned clients for what they owe to Pacific Law Center. The San Diego Bankruptcy Law Firm is committed to our community and to our clients. The last thing someone facing bankruptcy needs is to lose their money because their law firm went out of business. Contact us at or call us at 619-260-1800.


Pacific Law Center 'winding down,' not adding clients

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 9:37 p.m.

Kerry Steigerwalt’s Pacific Law Center, the highly visible firm with its ubiquitous television ads, has stopped taking new clients and is “winding down” its business, the firm’s owner said Wednesday.

Steigerwalt, a well-known San Diego defense attorney who bought a majority interest in the firm in 2008, said that he broke the news to his staff during a morning meeting at the University City-based firm and advised them to focus on current cases. He said the economic downturn and the company’s business model of “little or no money down” contributed to the firm’s money woes.

“Our model is predicated on people making payments,” Steigerwalt said in a telephone interview. “Fewer and fewer people have money to hire us, and those that do are not paying. It just became a managerial nightmare.”

Steigerwalt said the firm, which has offices in San Diego, Chula Vista and Escondido, isn’t going out of business. Despite some staff reductions, he said, the lawyers working there are well-equipped to represent existing clients to the fullest.

“At this point in time, I want to take no further cases,” he said. “I want to begin winding down this business.”

The 17 attorneys listed on the firm’s website represent hundreds of clients in criminal cases, bankruptcies, loan modifications and personal injury lawsuits. The firm has 107 employees after staff cuts in February,

The lawyers, including Steigerwalt, are featured in the law center’s frequently running television commercials in which they promote aggressive representation for “little or no money down” and affordable payment plans. Testimonials from clients also are used in the ads.

Steigerwalt said he called local television stations Wednesday and told them to stop running the ads.

Steigerwalt bought 51 percent of Pacific Law Center in March 2008. Former managing partner, Robert Arentz, had a 49 percent stake. Steigerwalt later became sole owner.

Before he bought a stake in Pacific Law Center, the firm had been dogged by complaints from clients and allegations of unethical activity by former lawyers. The problems continued to some degree after Steigerwalt came on board. Clients had filed lawsuits against the firm, as did a former attorney who claimed that the sale to Steigerwalt was a fraud.

Steigerwalt said he believes he successfully turned the firm around and that its old reputation was not a factor in the decision to stop taking new clients.

Kerry Armstrong, a defense lawyer who worked for Steigerwalt for 11 years but did not work at Pacific Law Center, said Wednesday’s announcement was inevitable.

“I knew it was coming; I just didn’t know when,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said the firm was hamstrung by its business model and a poor reputation that changed little despite Steigerwalt’s efforts.

“I think Kerry really wanted to change it when he went in,” Armstrong said. “He just didn’t put the right people in place to do it for him.”