Legal Ethics

Lawyer Behind Now-Defunct Pacific Law Center Is Facing Disciplinary Action


One of San Diego’s most recognizable lawyers is facing dozens of disciplinary charges for work he was paid for but allegedly never performed.

Kerry Steigerwalt, who ran the now-defunct Pacific Law Center, is accused of violating a series of bar rules in 19 separate cases, all but two of which were bankruptcy filings, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

In a 56-count complaint against Steigerwalt, the State Bar of California says many of the cases involve clients who paid in advance for a bankruptcy filing but received no work in return.

In other cases, clients received a partial refund of their fees, but Steigerwalt tacked on monthly maintenance or cancellation fees, which the bar alleges were excessive and unnecessary.

Steigerwalt and his lawyer said they would contest the charges. They also said that all of the clients whose cases are referenced in the complaint have since been reimbursed.

“I tried to take care of each and every client as best as I could,” Steigerwalt told the newspaper.

The Pacific Law Center went out of business in June 2010. At the time, Steigerwalt said his existing cases would be completed. He also struck a deal with an Illinois firm to take over a portion of his caseload.

But the bar complaint says the lawyer who heads that firm, J. Kevin Benjamin, is not licensed to practice in California and is prohibited from practicing in federal bankruptcy court in San Diego.

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