February 3, 2023
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Memorial slated for SLO attorney


Phil Steiner, a well-known intellectual property attorney in San Luis Obispo, died on Sept. 25. He was 55.

A memorial is planned for Steiner at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 30. Steiner was instrumental in establishing the intellectual property section of the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association to bring together patent attorneys on the Central Coast.

“He really laid the groundwork for that section and for creating collegiality among the very few of us that practice in that area in the county,” said Tom Lebens, a partner in the San Luis Obispo firm of Sinsheimer Juhnke Lebens & McIvor who took over the section after Steiner founded it. “He really pulled us all together and created that collegial atmosphere.”

Lebens said that just days before Steiner’s death, he was working to organize a meeting to discuss recently passed patent legislation with other intellectual property attorneys in the area. “He reached out to me and said, ‘We need to get together and talk about the impact of the America Invents Act and how we’re going to counsel clients on that.’ It’s very important to test ideas against others and help each other become educated as the law changes,” Lebens said.

Steiner was a regular at business and technology events in the Tri-Counties and was occasionally quoted by the Business Times in stories about intellectual property disputes. Christine L. Kopitzke of the Santa Barbara office of the SoCal IP Law Group said Steiner’s absence would be felt among intellectual property attorneys in the region.

“Phil was a truly nice guy, with an amusing wit and ironic sense of humor,” she said via email. “He practiced law cooperatively rather than competitively, and was always generous with referrals and sharing his time to teach other attorneys about the latest developments in patent law, both as former head of the intellectual property section of the SLO Bar Association and in cooperation with the Santa Barbara and Ventura IP sections.”

According to an obituary in the Tribune, Steiner was an avid snorkeler, scuba diver and hiker. He is survived by his wife, Amy; his son, Daniel, 21; his daughter, Chelsea, 19; and his sister, Marcia, according to the obituary.


  1. Kim Mistretta says:

    Good article, Steve–Phil deserved it!

    Kim Mistretta