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Publications | December 10, 2021
3 minute read

Attorney Spotlight – James Steffel

What kind of law do you practice and what do you enjoy about it?

I practice as both a generalist and a specialist. In part of my practice, I serve as a client manager, identifying what specialized services our clients need and who is best suited to provide those services. The other part of my practice involves more specialized services related to estate, succession and strategic planning for families and closely-held entities that generally operate in the family office, commercial, industrial and health care sectors.  I love helping develop plans that anticipate and avoid problems, identify and seize opportunities, and define and achieve goals.

Tell us about your journey to becoming an attorney

I have always loved competition (mostly athletic) and playing various games. At a young age, it was clear that knowing the rules always paid off. My eventual decision to become a business major was based upon the following default rationale: if you don’t know what you want to be, then major in business because it applies to everything. After completing a business internship and landing my first post-graduate position as an energy consultant, I realized I needed to go on to law school. Having reached the adult game of life, I simply wanted to learn the rules.

Why did you want to work for Warner?

I initially developed my practice in a small-firm setting that afforded me the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in multiple disciplines including litigation, real estate, business and estate planning. Those experiences created a desire to develop greater expertise which led me to pursue an advanced law degree. While maintaining my practice in Michigan, I earned an LL.M. in estate planning from the University of Miami (Florida). Upon graduation, it quickly became obvious that my new skills required regular practice at a level that Warner, and its clients’ needs, could best provide. Warner had a great reputation, seasoned mentors, the best Trusts and Estates practice group that I knew of and it became clear that they maintained a client-first culture. I’m very fortunate that they gave me an opportunity to join their team, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you?

I have travelled to 28 countries (and met with lawyers or judges in 14 of them), visited 49 states (only missing Washington), skied 29 of Ski Magazine’s Top 30 Mountains, ran 10 marathons between ages 22 and 60 (including 2 top 10 finishes), coached over 20 basketball teams from grade school travel teams to high school Senior-to-Be AAU Champions, and I love to start my day with a quick sunrise water ski session (a record 70 times last summer).

What are your hobbies?

Family time with my wife (St. Sheila) and my three sons (Jameson, Sean and Lukas), skiing (water and snow), running, coaching basketball, travel, reading, music, movies, biking (trails and water), building projects, golfing and other outdoor activities.