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

Paralegal: Jessica Santoro (

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Steve Stafford is a partner with the 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 privately held businesses, entrepreneurs, and real estate investors across the state of California through all phases of a business, from formation to exit.

Steve forms and structures corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships, with each decision custom tailored to the client’s particular tax, liability protection, and succession planning objectives. As general counsel to privately held companies, he 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, transferring the business and real estate interests of high net worth families to irrevocable trusts, 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 takes a holistic approach to serving his clients. 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 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.

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 regarding acquisitions and sales 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 Lawyer’s Association (CLA) Business Law Section Webinar, October 22, 2020
    • Business Succession Planning Opportunities During Today's Unprecedented Times
  • Orange County Bar Association Business & Corporate Law Section Webinar, August 26, 2020
    • Business Succession Planning Opportunities During Today's Unprecedented Times
  • 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 and former Advisory Board Member
  • Orange County Bar Association: Member of Business Law and Tax Law sections
  • ProVisors: Member and Host of Irvine Spectrum Group
  • Legatus: Member of San Juan Capistrano Chapter
  • St. Thomas More Society of Orange County: Member
  • Charles Institute: Leadership Team
  • Athletes Touch (Professional Networking Community of Former College and Professional Athletes): Member from 2010 – 2020 and former Group Leader for Orange County Chapter from 2011 – 2015
  • 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