Still relatively early in his career, Steven Stoltz is already one of the Bay Area's most respected - and enlightened -- practitioners of divorce law. Indeed, in a field rich with aggressive personalities, the 52-year-old Stoltz stands out, an original mix of self-deprecating wit and shrewd tenacity -- with a spiritual balance that few lawyers ever achieve, much less contemplate. In many ways Stoltz brings an ideal temperament to divorce law - confident but not arrogant, restrained but always active. He's also unique because he's set and met high standards without the usual stops as an apprentice or someone else's protege. "I am self-made," he says.
Growing up in Cleveland and raised by a single, struggling mother with her own grit and high expectations (his younger brother Craig is today a top editor at The Washington Post), Stoltz says he came to San Francisco for law school with "just a suitcase in my hand." He worked full-time, earning his way through law school and honing a work ethic that sustains him today. He promptly hung out a neighborhood shingle, representing friends and relatives in all kinds of litigation - personal-injury claims, commercial disputes, even criminal defense matters. By the mid-80s he began handling divorce cases, and by 1988 it was virtually all of his practice. "If you do everything, there's a good chance you will be mediocre at everything," he says. Still, "the broad courtroom experience in civil litigation turned out to be very valuable for what I do today." Peers says Stoltz is a sharp and well-prepared adversary, unafraid of the fight but not naturally contentious. "I don't think anyone's ever seen me lose my temper," adding, "I never write an angry letter or wage a vicious attack. These are not effective litigation tactics."
Stoltz has long been a practitioner of Muay Thai, the powerfully spiritual but, as Wikipedia describes it, "especially versatile, brutal and straightforward" martial art. Stoltz's practice in the last decade has taken off, as he attracts more affluent clients and local celebrities. His practice, which includes two full-time associates, is thriving throughout the area; he has offices in San Francisco, Marin County and the Peninsula. He lives in San Rafael, Marin County.