THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 131
Interview on 10.15.2021

Hosted By
Kevin Daisey

Featuring Attorney

Steven Krieger



Managing Partner of
Steven Krieger Law

About Steven Krieger

Steven Krieger is the Managing Partner at Steven Krieger Law in Arlington, Virginia.

Steven earned his Juris Doctor from the UCLA School of Law, David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. Prior to law school, he earned a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Michigan School of Business.

Learn from his expertise and what trends are helping grow his firm on this episode of The Managing Partners Podcast!

Watch the Episode

Episode Transcript

Kevin Daisey:
All right. We’re recording. Everyone, as you’re tuning in on any platform that we’re on right now, maybe on video, could be on YouTube, could be on our podcast audio version, but thank you for tuning in for another live recording of the Managing Partners Podcast. I’m Kevin Daisey, your host. I’m also the founder of Array Digital, where we help law firms grow their pipeline through digital marketing. Welcome again to another episode today, I got Steven joining me here from Arlington Virginia. Steven, thanks so much. Look forward to learning more about you and your practice.
Steven:
Thanks. Happy to be here.
Kevin Daisey:
Excellent. So you’re in Arlington, Virginia, which not too far away from me here in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey, really, I think. And at what point in time did you decide to become an attorney, practice law, and kind of tell us a little bit about that process of what you went through and really how you got to where you are today?
Steven:
Yeah. So I think I’ve always had an advocate type spirit, and I’ve always been a bit of an entrepreneur. I had a paper route when I was really young, going around my neighborhood with a little red wagon dropping off news papers to my neighbors. It was only a few streets long, but I think I was probably under 13-
Kevin Daisey:
That’s illegal.
Steven:
So you could do that back when I was that age. I’m not sure paper routes exist for young kids anymore. But I’ve always sort of had this idea of sort of doing your own thing and kind of having your own business. And when I got a little bit older and we were in school, high school, in college, I always liked to kind of go advocate for causes. And I was primarily interested in environmental causes, sustainability and climate change, and I thought that I wanted to do that on the policy basis. So I graduated from college, from University of Michigan, I’m actually in the business school with a minor in environmental studies, and I wanted to come to DC to sort of work for environmental NGOs.
Steven:
So I did. I did that for a number of years and I sort of realized that I want to go to law school and be a lawyer and litigate these cases, save the Earth, whether it’s the water, the trees, the air, the animals, whatever it was. And I wanted to work for DOJ and be in their enforcement division. And that’s why I went to law school. And I applied and I got in to the public interest program at UCLA, which was fantastic.
Steven:
And unfortunately after a little bit of time sort of doing that, as most people find out, go to law school for one thing, and you kind of come not doing something else. I really enjoyed the client interactions. And you don’t have client interactions when your clients are trees or animals or water or air. So I kind of changed gears and sort of changed my advocacy to more civil litigation where I could represent individual clients. And that’s what my firm does now. We’re licensed in Virginia and in DC. I would say we’re probably 80 to 85% of our works in Virginia and the rest is in DC. And we represent individuals, small businesses in wherever they need in in civil litigation.
Kevin Daisey:
Excellent. Awesome. I love the story and, again, everyone’s got… Every time I ask, it’s a different… Going one way and something brought you into some other path. And I’ve heard a lot of managing partners actually share that they started in one type of practice in law and some went to multiple before they really found the place they wanted to be. So I think that’s interesting. Now, you can’t really talk to trees, unless you go camping a lot and you know, you can try.
Steven:
Yeah. You can hug them and they might even hug you back. But they’re not going to be a big advocate for themselves, unfortunately. And there are great lawyers that are doing that work and they should be praised and they’re doing [inaudible 00:04:05] work. It’s just, I’m not sure I could see that for myself and my career. I needed that sort of interaction, one-on-one communication like you and I are doing now with the clients.
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. I would go nuts. I like to talk to people. So yeah, I couldn’t probably do well in that either. And I actually, long time ago, personally, I used to be in civil engineering and doing drafting and doing all kinds of cool plans and work with environmental and more in the land development side. But it was a cubicle and drawing plans and stuff. And just, I was like, “I can’t do this.” So marketing, that’s where I found my path. But anyway, this is more about you. So I want to know more about your firm. So you mentioned, so what are some of the areas that you really focused on in practice or specialize in?
Steven:
So on the litigation side, you can kind of divide the world into maybe three broad categories. Civil litigation, based in contract, civil litigation based in torts, and then civil litigation based in statute. And we’re primarily in the contract realm. So if you hire a home renovation contractor to come in and bump out your roof or remodel your kitchen and they’re unlicensed and they steal your money, we’re happy to help out in those cases. There hopefully there was a contract in place, if not written, certainly verbal. If you have a landlord or tenant dispute, maybe they’re not paying rent, maybe there’s some other lease violation, maybe the landlord is not fulfilling their repair obligation, or the tenant has unauthorized occupants in the property, there’s a contract that sort of says what’s supposed to happen, and so we do that type of work.
Steven:
And then there’s also all kinds of just contract disputes. I paid for a service I didn’t get, or I paid for a product I didn’t get. And so we handle all those kinds of contract based disputes. There are some statutes that sort of tie in to some of those contract disputes, and one of the big ones that we handle is the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. One of the violations of the act is being an unlicensed contractor. So in a lawsuit where the contractor is unlicensed, not only can we get them for breach of contract, we can also potentially get them for violation of the VCPA, which is great because it allows for the clients to have a hook for attorney’s fees and also trouble damages, which is sometimes up to three times their actual damages.
Kevin Daisey:
Oh, wow. Okay. Excellent. Great explanation. So just kind of a little piece in there I was thinking about is with COVID specifically, with tenants and landlords, what really have you seen with any situations with that as far as people not being able to pay their rent or not having to pay their rent? Situations that landlords may be in. What kind have you seen on that front?
Steven:
Yeah. So when the landlords and the tenants work together, it’s usually okay, the tenant lost their job and they can’t pay rent so they work with the landlord to apply for rental assistance, and there’s millions and millions of dollars assistance out there. So in those cases, it’s okay. The tenant gets the application submitted with the landlord or the landlord does it with the tenant’s assistance, and whatever agency is appropriate, whether it’s Stay DC in DC, or the agencies in Virginia that provide the assistance, then it’s no problem. And the landlord gets their money and hopefully tenant gets back on their feet and everyone kind of can move on.
Steven:
The issue was, at least initially in Virginia, when there was evictions that needed to happen for non rent based reasons, unauthorized occupants for example. You said that you’ll have two people there and there’s 20. Originally there were no evictions at all, and so you couldn’t do anything. Virginia, much sooner than DC, relaxed those regulations and allowed for landlords in Virginia to evict for non monetary reasons. And then shortly thereafter, they allowed for monetary evictions as well, as long as certain conditions were met. So Virginia was I think taking a much more reasonable perspective on this, especially for the private individual landlords.
Kevin Daisey:
Sure.
Steven:
DC on the other hand, just completely off their rocker. For well over a year and a half, there were no evictions allowed at all for any reason no matter what. I got a client who’s got a dying mother that she’s trying to move into her house and the tenants don’t want to leave. There’s no real reason why they are allowed to stay other than no evictions for any reason are going forward in DC. Now that just sort of changed and evictions for nonpayment of rent can now go forward and evictions for other reasons can go forward in the beginning 2022. But DC’s refusal to allow any evictions for any reason for well over a year was one of the most tenant friendly ways of dealing with the moratorium in COVID that I’ve seen.
Kevin Daisey:
Interesting.
Steven:
It’s fine to look out for the tenant. And DC is very tenant friendly. But you have to be looking out for the private landlords too. I mean, they got mortgages to pay or other things to sort of take care of.
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. A hundred percent. And as me, as I try to do more investment in real estate and have a property myself and my business partner as well, yeah, I think a lot of times you’ll be like, “Oh, well the landlord, they own the property and they own all these properties and…” But they’re very quickly at risk if their tenants aren’t paying and they’ll lose everything they got.
Steven:
Yeah. And I tell all my clients this, and I’ll tell you the same thing, if you’re looking to do investment properties for rental businesses, and you’re deciding between Virginia and DC, go to Virginia 10 out of 10 times. In part, because if there’s any issues it’s just much easier to get through the Virginia court system than the DC court system. It’s much easier.
Kevin Daisey:
Okay. I’m going to write that down. I don’t plan on buying anything in DC though [crosstalk 00:10:31]. That’s very interesting. I mean, too, you could be just across the line and not really realizing the difference there.
Steven:
Yeah. And I mean I lived in DC when I first moved here from college, we lived in DC and I got married and our first place was in DC. And my wife’s from Arlington, Virginia originally. And she convinced me after a few years we should go look into Arlington. I was like, “Oh, I don’t want to be in Arlington. And DC is so great.” Arlington’s way better. It’s just so much better.
Kevin Daisey:
You heard it here first.
Steven:
That’s right. That’s right [crosstalk 00:11:11].
Kevin Daisey:
My wife works for a DC based company and she lived up there for a while, but she was in Reston and Arlington. I think Arlington is the last place she lived. But yeah, go Virginia. That’s where I’m at.
Steven:
That’s right. And if you buy investment properties along the Metro line, it’s relatively comparable to DC, relatively.
Kevin Daisey:
Excellent. Well, okay. Thanks for kind of sharing that insight as something since you specialize in that. I was wondering just how that was panning out and how things were going with that. So you more represent the landlords with what you do?
Steven:
We do. I mean, it’s certainly more landlords than tenants, but I think last time I checked, it was about 60-40. Relatively even. I would say most attorneys that do landlord tenant work are way more landlord heavy than we are. We try really hard to do both. We’re happy to do both.
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. That’s good. Nice to have a good mix.
Steven:
Yeah, for sure.
Kevin Daisey:
So, as far as you mentioned who you work with a little bit there and that side of things, what are some of the things that you have done to attract clients? Tenants and landlords are completely different. What’s worked well for you to get clients in the door?
Steven:
Yeah. I mean, I think the two biggest things that we’ve done to get them in the door are the blog posts on the website. There’s a lot of really good content that we’ve produced. And I think people are searching for specific things and we’re sort of lucky, I think, that our blog posts kind of come up on relatively high on Google. I don’t think we’ve done anything in particular to make that happen other than produce good content. Our eviction blog post gets a ton of hits, evictions in Virginia. That’s usually one of the top results, or at least it used to be. But the content too. We’ve got a bunch of blog posts on defamation, and that’s one of the areas that my firm tackles, that there’s no contract in defamation, but there is oftentimes a writing where that you can look at the statement that was made and use that as the basis for the lawsuit.
Steven:
And so I think those have been really helpful. People read them and they have questions and they contact us. And I would say the other thing that we’ve done to sort of bring folks in the door is to just focus on the online reviews. There’s so many attorneys out there, it can be hard to differentiate. I don’t know that we’ve done a great job of differentiating other than the fact that we’ve got a lot of reviews. And I think that gives us some credibility among people who don’t really know where to turn. But I don’t know, we probably could use some help.
Kevin Daisey:
Well, I mean, kudos to you. I mean, you’re preaching the choir here, because we do digital marketing for law firms. We believe in a lot of things you just mentioned of course, and content can be very powerful and I think… There’s a good book out there you can check out if you haven’t already, but anyone listening, is They Ask, You Answer. And it was a gentleman who owned a pool company and he had a website like yours. He had a blog and he just started going, “You know what? We get all these questions from clients all the time. I’m going to start answering them all.” And so what he had started to do is write a blog post answering all the questions he got. And it quickly became the most, I think they’re the largest pool company in the country, but they started out of Virginia, actually, Richmond area.
Kevin Daisey:
Now they’re more like franchise I think at this point, but basically what it is, people are asking questions. I actually have a pool. When I got my pool, how much does the pool cost? Should I get fiberglass? Should I get this? Should I get that? There’s a lot of questions you have. So as a tenant or a landlord, you’re going to be searching this stuff. And if you’re a local attorney that they’re going to be looking for, that’s even more opportunity because geographically you’re going to come up. And the reviews are the other piece that pulls it together. Should I call them? Let me take a look at what other people have said. It also helps you do ranking or Google My Business listings, all that stuff.
Kevin Daisey:
So yeah, everything you said is great and I wish more people paid attention to that stuff because I talk to a lot of firms that don’t at all. And word of mouth and referrals is basically the only way they exist, which is great. You can’t beat a referral. But I always tell everyone is, imagine if Google could be your other referral source and when someone doesn’t have a trusted referral and they have a situation that you know you can help them with, why not be there. Right? So yeah, I think it’s great what you’re doing and if that’s working well for you, that’s great stuff. So yeah, [inaudible 00:16:29] and produce good content and it’s helping people and you’re the brand that they’re in front of and answering their question. There’s a good chance they’re going to say, “I’m just going to give Steven a call because he obviously knows what he’s talking about.”
Steven:
Yeah, I think that works. And I think the other thing that we do pretty well, I think we’re generally, we try to meet people where they are. We’re not one of those snooty white tipped shoe law firms. I mean I’m wearing a baseball cap and a polo shirt. I mean, it’s kind of who we are. Our website’s pretty casual, needs probably a facelift, honestly, it’s a little bit old. Updated. But it’s relaxed, casual, and that’s kind of how we handle things. Obviously we take people’s matters and our clients’ matters very seriously, but it doesn’t mean that we have to look down on people or talk in ways they don’t understand or make them feel any less than who they are.
Kevin Daisey:
I love it. And I think being yourself and I think that’s huge. And I think I’ve got to see a lot of firms and people I’ve had on the show here that have done that in different, unique ways. And it’s really cool to see. Most are kind of, they look like a law firm, they act like a law firm, and it’s just nice to see someone that’s just, “That’s not going to be me. We’re going to be ourselves. We’re going to be able to see eye to eye with folks and make them feel, I think more comfortable, honestly.”
Steven:
That’s the goal.
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, I love it. Excellent. So what’s the plans for you the next couple years? Coming out of COVID things have been a little crazy. I hope things are on the mend and we’ll come out of this pretty quickly. But with that said or not, what’s the plans that you have for growth over the next couple years?
Steven:
Yeah. I mean I think we’re happy to grow. We’re also happy to sort of stay the same size. I think right now we actually have more work than we have I think attorneys to do it. We actually are hiring. So if anyone’s listening out there and they’re not a managing partner or not owning their own firm, but they have their own position, they’re looking for a change, we’re hiring sort of. I would say we are hiring for an entry level, but we prefer to have somebody who’s got a few years litigation experience, in Virginia preferably. And if we can find somebody like that, we’d be happy to expand. Yeah.
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. So websites again, at the bottom of the site, I mean of the screen here. And I think, I believe I saw that on your website where you’re looking for someone with zero to three years experience, I believe.
Steven:
Yeah. Two to three would be ideal, but if we got the right person with sort of coming out of law school, we would train them up if we need be. But preferably somebody who’s got some in-court litigation experience already.
Kevin Daisey:
Excellent. Yeah. So anyone listening, if you know someone like that, we have a lot of attorneys that tune in, so hopefully, maybe someone can find someone for you. But yeah, check out Steven’s website. See what they’re all about. Learn more about his firm. They’re also looking for someone to join the team. So if you got any referrals for him, please reach out. And yeah, Steven, is there anything else you want to share before we go?
Steven:
No, I don’t think so. I mean, I guess if people are out there and there and they’re thinking about whether they want to start their own firm, if that’s sort of the question. What does it take to be a managing partner at a firm? I think they have to understand that being a litigator, it’s very different than being a managing partner at a firm. And one of my colleagues, one of the first people I met when I moved here and started my own firm, told me that basically he’s got several jobs. He’s basically doing half of his time being a litigator, half of his time running the firm, and then half of his time doing admin. You can do the math. That’s more than one.
Steven:
So you kind of have to be comfortable with the idea that you’re going to be doing a lot until you can kind of get help. And even when you get help, you’re still going to be doing a lot of managing, which is not litigating. So if you really like litigating, then be a litigator. If you like businesses and you went to business school, or even if you didn’t go to business school. I did, I like business, I like managing businesses, then that’s fine. Just understand that it’s a different type of job than just being a litigator.
Kevin Daisey:
Good advice, Steven, for sure. And I hear time and time again, everyone that we talk to here that you’re not taught how to run a business in law school. And a lot of people that want to go and start their own firm to do their own thing, but you got to learn how to do it all. So either have some good mentors, some great people to lean on, ask questions, but it is a lot more to it than just doing what you want to do. You got to run everything.
Steven:
Yeah, definitely. I mean, you’re barely taught to be a litigator in law school and that’s kind of what they’re supposed to be training you to do. So they’re certainly not teaching you how to manage a firm. One of the things that could be useful for somebody sort of in this limbo situation, like you mentioned, finding good mentors. There is a networking group of solo and small firm attorneys, Northern Virginia, that I run and that meets once a month. And so whether you’re a solo or small firm attorney, whether you’re just an attorney looking to maybe jump into that type of field, you’re welcome to come, feel free to reach out to me and I can add you to the list and you can come and get to the mentorship that you might need before you take the plunge, or if you’ve already taken the plunge and you’re kind of-
Kevin Daisey:
You’re trying to swim.
Steven:
Exactly, exactly. You’re not quite drowning, you’re not quite swimming, feel free to come to [inaudible 00:22:42] and the people there are really friendly and happy to offer advice.
Kevin Daisey:
That’s excellent. I love that. And for me, I run a different type of firm, but we have Masterminds that we’re part of. Definitely have coaches and mentors. I’ve been running companies for a long time, but we still lean on folks and get other opinions and it’s a constant learning process. So yeah, don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask questions. There’s plenty of people out there like Steven that’ll help you out.
Steven:
Definitely.
Kevin Daisey:
Well, Steven, I appreciate you sharing that and hope some folks will reach out and hopefully you find the person that you’re looking for too. And just appreciate you sharing some of those tips and advice and wish you all the best with your firm.
Steven:
Yeah. Thanks so much and you too, and thanks again for having me on the show.
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. All right. Well stick on with me for a second. Everyone else, thanks for joining us. Thanks for tuning in. I hope you learned a lot from Steven. Back this up, listen again, he’s got a lot of good things to share there. So we’ll see you again next time. And Steven, thanks again for joining me.

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