Stephen Stafford, J.D., LL.M.

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Steve Stafford is a partner with the Orange County, California law firm of Brown & Streza LLP, which provides integrated business, estate and tax planning for business owners and high-net-worth families. Steve advises closely held businesses, entrepreneurs, and real estate investors throughout the state of California. Steve forms and structures corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships, with each decision custom tailored to the client’s particular tax planning, liability protection, and succession planning objectives.

Steve acts as outside general counsel for numerous businesses, and provides tax planning, risk management, corporate compliance, contract review and preparation, mergers and acquisitions, and business succession planning services. Steve’s succession planning experience ranges from Buy-Sell Agreements, pre-sale restructuring of companies, intra-family buyouts, to structuring succession plans for lawyers and accountants.

From forming start-ups to counseling multi-generation companies, and from helping new entrepreneurs grow their businesses tax efficiently, to advising seasoned owners regarding the purchase or sale of business interests, Steve is known for his thorough, caring, and dedicated approach to his clients. Steve takes a holistic approach to his law practice and firmly believes in the power of teamwork, as he frequently collaborates with his clients’ CPAs, financial advisors, insurance brokers and estate planning attorneys to achieve a tax-efficient outcome and/or to better protect their businesses.

Steve was selected for inclusion on the “Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Star” lists by the publishers of Los Angeles magazine and Law & Politics magazine from 2009 through 2012 – a distinction recognizing just 2.5% of attorneys under the age of 40 and/or in their first 10 years of practice. Before joining Brown & Streza in 2007, Steve worked as a litigation attorney in the San Francisco and Orange County offices of a large litigation law firm.

Steve received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley, his Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of Law, and his Master of Law in Taxation (LL.M.) from Chapman University School of Law.

Steve was a four-year letterman on the Cal Football Team during his undergraduate career, and remains involved with a variety of Cal Alumni organizations. Steve and his wife, Kirsten have four children and have been involved in a number of youth sports and community activities. One of their favorite community service activities was Co-Chairing Dana Hills High School Football’s 2013 Honor the Valor Benefit Game, which benefits local military veterans’ organizations.

Creation and representation of closely held business entities and their owners

  • Advising entrepreneurs regarding the proper type of entity for their businesses;
  • Advising real estate investors regarding liability and tax considerations related to ownership of real property;
  • Formation of corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships;
  • Performing corporate governance, business planning and tax planning for existing businesses;
  • Reviewing, preparing and negotiating contracts;
  • Providing business succession planning to owners who are seeking to sell their business, transfer their interests to the next generation or transition their business to internal management; and
  • Counseling principals through the acquisition and sale of businesses.
  • Brown & Streza LLP, Irvine, California: Partner, 2017 - Present
  • Brown & Streza LLP, Irvine, California: Attorney, 2007 - 2016
  • Master of Law (LL.M.) in Taxation, Chapman University School of Law, 2009
    • CALI Awards in Partnership Tax, S Corporations, Ethics in Tax Practice, Corporate Tax II and Real Estate Tax Planning
  • Gordon & Rees LLP, San Francisco and Newport Beach, California: Attorney, 2003 - 2007
  • Juris Doctor, University of San Francisco Law School, 2002
  • Gap Inc., San Bruno, California: Senior Retirement Benefits Analyst (1995 - 1999) and Legal Administrator (1999 - 2001)
  • Coopers & Lybrand, LLP, San Francisco, California: Associate Benefits Consultant, 1993 - 1995
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of California, Berkeley, 1993


  • All California State Courts
  • United State District court for the Central District of California
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

2009 - 2012 “Southern California SuperLawyers - Rising Star”

  • Published by Los Angeles magazine and The Journal for Law & Politics. Only 2.5% of lawyers under the age of 40 and/or in their first 10 years of practice in Los Angeles and Orange Counties receive this honor.
  • “Tax and Accounting Elections”
    • Author of “Tax and Accounting Elections” Chapter of California's Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) Financing and Protecting California Businesses, February 2015
    • Author of “Tax and Accounting Elections” Chapter of California's Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) Financing and Protecting California Businesses, February 2014
    • Co-author of “Tax and Accounting Elections” Chapter of California's Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) Financing and Protecting California Businesses, February 2013
  • California Lawyers Association (CLA) Webinar, January 24, 2019
    • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act - What Every Attorney Should Know
  • Financial Planning Association of Orange County (FPA) Quarterly Education Meeting, Irvine, California, August 15, 2018
    • Tax Treatment of Business Entities under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
  • CalCPA Forensic Services, Irvine, California, February 8, 2017
    • Tax Advantages of Business Entities
  • Harvard Business School and USC Marshall School of Business: Business Growth Conference 2011, Anaheim, California, May 9, 2011
    • Buy-Sell Agreements and Business Entity Structures: Get it Right or Pay the Price
  • Orange County Register, February 22, 2015
    • How Savvy Are You About Homeowner Tax Breaks? Take Our Quiz To Find Out
    • Source for technical information related to a home office as an itemized deduction on taxes
  • St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church: Parishioner and Usher
  • University of California, Berkeley – Orange County Cal Alumni Club: Member
  • Athletes Touch (Professional Networking Community of College and Professional Athletes): Member and Former Team Leader for Orange County 1 Chapter (2011-2015)
  • St. Thomas More Society of Orange County: Member
  • ProVisors: Member and Host of Irvine Spectrum Group
  • Dana Hills High School Football’s 2013 Honor the Valor Benefit Game – Co-Chair (Benefit/fundraiser honoring combat veterans that served from WWII to Afghanistan)
  • Former Coach of youth soccer, football, basketball and baseball teams
  • Big C Society (Cal Student – Athlete alumni): Member and served on Board of Directors from 1996 – 1998