To Stephen, each case presents an exciting challenge: how to navigate the complexities of the law and present the evidence through arguments calculated to vindicate his client’s interests. Motivated to win while maintaining the highest professional standards, Stephen has developed a hard-earned reputation over his twenty-five years in litigation for combining excellence and a “dogged approach” with integrity.
A legal omnivore, Stephen takes on civil cases of all types, across widely divergent fields and industries, at the trial level or on appeal, on either side of a dispute. Eager to learn, he thrives on being entrusted with important matters in new areas. One publication called him “the rare jack-of-all-trades who might actually be the master of them all.” Another opined that he “possesses the rare skill set allowing him to excel at both trial and appellate litigation.”
It is hard to describe a “representative” case for Stephen, but this list gives some insight into the range of his practice in recent years:
An appellate specialist, Stephen is sought-after for critical appeals. He prides himself on clear, impactful writing and relishes oral advocacy. Board-certified in appellate practice, he has authored hundreds of briefs and has argued some 60 appeals. Chambers U.S.A. has praised his “extremely creative legal analysis skills” and “sharp intellect,” ranking him among the top appellate lawyers in Florida. While Stephen most frequently appears in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, based in Atlanta (and covering Florida), and in Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal, in Miami, he has handled appeals in every other Florida appellate district, including the Florida Supreme Court, where he has argued three cases. In federal court, he has also handled appeals in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and New Orleans. In the U.S. Supreme Court, he has litigated petitions for writs of certiorari but still awaits the rare opportunity to argue a case before that tribunal.
Equally comfortable in trial court, Stephen has been hired to lead cases from start to finish, or to parachute in before trial to handle critical issues with an eye to appeal. Skills he learned in college as an improv-comedy actor (of questionable talent) and in high-school debate as an extemporaneous speaker continue to serve him well before trial judges and juries. He has tried multiple cases to verdict in state and federal court.
Stephen is committed to ensuring that the law serves social justice. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. He is proud to have partnered with the ACLU on marriage-equality in Florida, obtaining a hard-fought ruling in 2015 that declared Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Stephen has also become a sought-out advisor to Democratic campaigns on Florida voting-rights issues and litigation strategy. He was appointed to serve as Florida State Counsel to the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012 and the Biden campaign in 2020.
Before returning to Miami and joining the firm in 2001, Stephen served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and served as a law clerk to Judge Rosemary Barkett on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and Judge Mark Wolf of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He is a graduate of Harvard College (A.B., magna cum laude) and Harvard Law School (J.D., cum laude). He studied for a year in England as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar and was the salutatorian of Miami-Palmetto Senior High School in 1988.