A news release sent March 1 states that San Diego lawyer Kerry Steigerwalt has been named one of the top 100 trial lawyers in America by the National Trial Lawyers.
The release says that Steigerwalt has received this award for five consecutive years, "from 2012 to 2016. This demonstrates a consistent and continuing commitment to excellence in the legal field."
The year 2012? Really? The National Trial Lawyers must be pulling the public's leg. On May 18, 2012, the State Bar of California put Steigerwalt on probation for two years and stated that he "must be actually suspended from the practice of law in the State of California for a period of one year." On October 6 of 2013, he was reinstated.
At the time of his suspension, the Bar stated that Steigerwalt's misconduct "evidences multiple acts of wrongdoing."
Steigerwalt was the most heavily advertised lawyer in San Diego, and also the most heavily quoted in news stories, particularly on TV. He took over the disreputable Pacific Law Center, which had been founded by a convicted felon who was not a lawyer. This was a fast-buck operation. People in trouble for such offenses as DUIs would hear the ads, come to the office, and get a high-pressure pitch from a non-lawyer. They would pay an upfront fee.
Steigerwalt purchased the firm, renamed it Kerry Steigerwalt's Pacific Law Center, and claimed he would reform it. But complaints piled up: people would pay the upfront fee but get no legal service. Many of those complaints came to the Bar, which cited them in its suspension of Steigerwalt.
The National Trial Lawyers — whoever they are — might benefit from a visit to the California State Bar website.