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Law Firm Website Design Companies : The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Pacific Law Center gains new partner

  Legal Marketing  -   POSTED: 2008/03/06 09:42

Longtime San Diego criminal defense lawyer Kerry Steigerwalt has taken a majority ownership in Pacific Law Center, which has been the target recently of client complaints.
Steigerwalt will become managing partner of the 30-lawyer firm based in University City. It has been renamed Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center.

Steigerwalt, a defense lawyer on several high-profile local cases, will have a 51 percent stake in the firm. Robert Arentz, former managing partner, will retain a 49 percent stake.

Six lawyers have been let go as a result of the merger of Steigerwalt's firm into Pacific Law Center, which Steigerwalt said should help the law firm erase some of its past problems.

The Better Business Bureau has fielded at least 38 complaints against Pacific Law Center – one of the most prolific legal advertisers in San Diego – over the past three years.

Lawsuits filed by former Pacific Law Center attorneys allege the firm gave lawyers too large a caseload for them to provide the type of service that the firm advertises. They also allege that the firm emphasized settling cases quickly.

Steigerwalt said in an interview yesterday that many of the firm's problems are behind it. "I recognize that Pacific Law Center has had issues in the past," he said. "You will not see any more client service complaints."

For Steigerwalt, the move allows him to tap Pacific Law Center's business model for growth. The law firm allows certain criminal defendants to pay legal fees over time instead of requiring large retainers upfront. It has a nationwide clientele.

"It's very successful," Steigerwalt said. "They're providing the service to the common guy who can't come up with a big lump sum payment."

In addition to criminal defense work, the firm provides bankruptcy and personal injury services. In addition to lawyers, the firm will employ 111 support staff.

Arentz formerly was a partner with Jeffrey Phillips, a Phoenix attorney, in Pacific Law Center. Phillips is no longer a partner in the new practice, but Arentz remains a partner with Phillips in an Arizona law firm.

Steigerwalt's mass tort – or class-action lawsuit – practice has been transferred to the Arizona firm in an asset swap as part of the transaction.

In addition, Steigerwalt operates a 22-employee legal marketing company to promote his firm. That company has been merged into Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center.

"It will market our services locally and nationally, in the larger national markets through the Internet and TV commercials, and locally through TV, magazines and phone books," he said.


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