Andrew Steif recently joined Abel Bean Law as an attorney. Formerly with Holland & Knight, he practices banking, real estate and transportation litigation in state and federal courts.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer?
I am grateful that my immediate family recognized, even before I did, that law school and the practice of law fit perfectly with my personality and skills and they encouraged me to pursue a career in the law. I also appreciate that they instilled in me the value of community service and a civic-minded attitude, and it was clear that becoming an attorney would be the best way to positively influence my community. As officers of the court, I believe we have a special responsibility to give back and help lift up our communities.
Someone who inspires me: My grandmother. She has lived through both good and bad times, is in her middle 90s, and still is inspiring me, my family and our friends.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law?
As an undergraduate major in history at the University of Florida, I concentrated my studies on the many eras of American history. Toward the end of my college career, I also studied the history of law. Coming from a family of educators, I wanted to teach history as a college professor. I eventually decided that helping make current precedent, as opposed to simply learning about those who helped make the law, was a prospect that I could not pass up. The writing and research skills that I learned, as well as the exams that required students to think quickly and critically, continue to serve me well today.
How did you decide your practice area and why?
Complex commercial litigation presents new challenges every day. I was lucky to have excellent mentors as a young associate. Early on, my choice of practice areas was informed predominately through working with excellent litigation partners and through learning the areas in which they practiced. In the more than 10 years since then, my practice has concentrated on transportation, real estate and banking litigation cases, but I have represented clients in lawsuits that touch many practice areas.
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law?
Clients will continue to expect, and rightly so, a higher level of interaction with, and responsiveness from their attorneys, often using new technology platforms. I also believe that although representation of clients for an hourly rate is likely to continue, the change to hybrid agreements like monthly retainers, blended rates, fixed fees and other alternative models will become more prevalent.
If I could change anything in the legal system ...
I would like to see a more substantial commitment to mentoring and the professional development of young attorneys, similar to the way in which Florida attorneys certify a commitment to pro bono work or legal aid organizations. A committed legal mentor can make all the difference for a younger attorney.
What community service have you pursued and why?
For several years, I was a board member of Jewish Family & Community Services, a charitable organization which, among many other good works, provides dependency and adoption services and maintains a food pantry. I enjoyed giving back to the community through the JFCS mission of “helping people help themselves.”
What’s your advice for new lawyers?
Find a good mentor. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and take the time to do the necessary research because there is no shame in confronting something outside of your knowledge. Even the most experienced lawyers learn something new every day.