An Attorney’s Truest Desire: To Be a "Trusted Business Advisor"

I defend lawsuits for a living.  However, one of the things I do for our retail and hospitality clients that I like very much has nothing to do with active litigation. 
On any given week, I spend several hours working with our institutional clients, analyzing claims or potential claims, and creating game plans for keeping these matters out of litigation if possible.  These clients have developed a relationship with me to the level that they feel comfortable to pick up the phone to chew over these cases to determine the best course of action before litigation erupts. Some times, the advice is to fight it out – some suits cannot be avoided due to a claimant’s settlement expectations, the existence of fraud, etc.  Other times, it is to settle.  Regardless of resolution strategy, my focus at this stage is on developing a way forward that is cost effective, time efficient, and protects the interests of the client and its brand identity. 
When we have these talks, there isn’t any meter running for this time, no bills to the client.  If the case falls into litigation, we’ll handle it.  However, the greater fixation for me on the front end is to be the “trusted business advisor” to help devise a solution that avoids the time, expense, inconvenience, and unpleasantness connected with litigation.  Our retailers and hospitality-related clients aren’t in the business of defending lawsuits.  We understand that and do what we can to enable them to stay focused on their core businesses.
Nothing makes my day more than hearing from a client who is calling to run something by me.   And I am always glad to help.
About Christian Stegmaier
Senior Shareholder

Christian Stegmaier is a shareholder and chair of the Retail & Hospitality Practice Group at Collins & Lacy in Columbia. He is also active in the firm’s professional liability and appellate practices. Stegmaier welcomes your questions at (803) 255-0454 or