San Diego's Law Firm


San Diego


phone 619.232.3122

fax 619.232.3264

Steven J. Barnes

Of Counsel

Mr. Barnes has more than 21 years of experience in California representing corporate and individual fiduciaries and beneficiaries in various disputes involving trust administration, estate administration, accountings, fiduciary appointment and removal, trust and will contests, probate, creditors’ claims and elder abuse issues at the trial and appellate levels.

Prior to relocating to California in 1997, Mr. Barnes practiced general civil litigation in the state and federal courts of New York for 12 years and served for three years as Principal Law Clerk to Honorable Renee R. Roth of the New York County Surrogate’s Court (Probate Court) in Manhattan. Mr. Barnes is licensed to practice law in both California and New York. Before and during law school, Mr. Barnes worked for a decade as a computer programmer and consultant in the financial services industry.

  • Trust and Probate Litigation
  • Financial Institutions
  • Commercial and Business Litigation
  • Elder Abuse Litigation
“We were dining at a San Diego restaurant and overheard the owner discussing appreciation of his attorney who had successfully won his case. When we asked who his attorney was, he referred us to a San Diego Law Firm. That chance meeting was the best referral possible for our situation, and led us to Steve Barnes.

Previously, we had a Los Angeles attorney representing us in an ongoing family probate matter in an LA court. Our previous attorney with over 30 years of experience could not stop the Trustee (50% beneficiary) from constantly taking us to court. The trustee continued to take advantage of the situation despite the fact the trustee had a few years’ experience as an attorney.

Once Steve Barnes became our attorney, he was able to quickly get up to speed and stopped the trustee from continually taking advantage. Steve was well prepared, responded quickly, competent, professional, retained the facts, and knowledgeable regarding Probate Law. Steve Barnes was strong at proving legal points to the judge.

We have a good attorney-client relationship; and even though the probate matter is still pending, we are in very cable hands and highly recommend Steve as a probate attorney.”

Carla & Doug Sprowls

“I have been in the Wealth Management industry for over 30 years with Security Pacific and Wells Fargo – -with 25 years in a senior management capacity with Wells Fargo. My last position before retiring from Wells Fargo was EVP and Regional Managing Director for Los Angeles , Manhattan Beach and Las Vegas regions. My responsibilities included direct oversight of Trust and Estate, Investment Management, Private Banking and Brokerage services.

Over the past 25 years I have worked with numerous law firms and attorneys regarding various trust and estate issues and litigation matters. I met Howard Kipnis in 1992 , when I was the Regional Manager of Wells Fargo’s Wealth Management office in San Diego. Howard immediately lived up to his reputation as a tough, smart , efficient and an ethical litigator by successfully representing Wells Fargo as trustee in a substantial fiduciary matter. Howard continued to be one of few attorneys I would utilize for larger, more complex litigation issues in the San Diego market.

I would not hesitate to recommend Howard and his firm!”

Robert Roszkos
Executive Vice President and Regional Managing Director, Wells Fargo’s Wealth Management Group (Retired)

“When a Trust is written, the hope is that the family will ‘get along’ and allow the parents’ financial legacy to gracefully pass on to their heirs. Unfortunately, this is not always the case! As a Trustee, when you find yourself in a legal battle with your family members, you will need to select an attorney who will know how to navigate the legal system and be able to take on tough issues. Howard Kipnis and his colleagues at his firm are the representation you should consider. Howard was always an ally to me as Trustee and was able to take on some very difficult situations in a very efficient and effective manner. He is experienced, articulate and compassionate. I highly recommend Howard and his associates!”

Martin Buser

  • Principal Law Clerk to Honorable Renee R. Roth, Surrogate of New York County, 1993-1996 (responsibilities included researching and analyzing complex legal issues, providing confidential advice and assistance to a judicial officer, conducting settlement conferences, communicating with counsel and unrepresented litigants, helping manage extensive court docket); Skadden Arps, 1981-1992 (associate attorney in litigation and trusts and estates departments).

  • Pennsylvania State University (B.S., 1968); Brooklyn Law School (J.D., 1978). Recipient: Surrogate Ivan Rubenstein Award (1978); American Jurisprudence Award in Wills (1977)

Bar Admissions

  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York
  • State of California
  • State of New York

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