Attorney Steven M. Bishop has been practicing family law in San Diego, California for over four decades. During the entirety of that time, his emphasis has been on providing his clients and the legal community with the highest standard of care and professionalism. Steven M. Bishop has a work ethic second-to-none.
Mr. Bishop was born in San Diego in October 1952 to Philip and Lillian Bishop, natives of Boston, Massachusetts. Philip Bishop enlisted in the United States Marine Corps immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and was assigned to Boot Camp at the San Diego Marine Corps Training Center. He and his new bride spent their honeymoon driving across country in preparation for Phil’s deployment to the Pacific Theater, where he served with distinction throughout the entirety of the war, seeing action in some of the most notable historic battles, Including landings at Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, the Philippines and others. At one point, the cruiser Mr. Bishop was assigned to was hit by a Japanese kamikaze. Philip received numerous combat awards, including twice earning a Purple Heart.
After the war, Philip and Lillian decided to remain in San Diego, where, as a war bride assigned to build bombers with Convair (later General Dynamics), Lillian fell in love with the San Diego climate. They ultimately raised their three sons, Douglas, Steven and Bruce, as the rare “San Diego natives“.
Philip Bishop ended up serving almost 25 years in the United States Marine Corps, seeing combat in Korea and later serving three tours of duty during the Vietnam War.
He eventually retired as a Gunnery Sergeant, finding a second career with the United States Postal Service. Lillian found a career as a Legal Secretary for the United States Air Force, foretelling Steven’s eventual future as an attorney. Steven grew up surrounded by military attorneys in the Judge Advocate Corps and was fascinated, even at a young age, by the challenges of the law.
At the age of 11, Steven decided to pursue a career as a lawyer and never looked back.
Philip and Lillian Bishop subsequently were transferred as a family for three years to Hawaii in 1960, just as it entered statehood, Philip was later assigned to the Camp Pendleton Marine Base from 1963 through 1965. However, Steven never forgot the beautiful wonder of Hawaii and it ultimately became the “go to vacation” for he and his future family.
In late 1965, the Bishop family was uprooted again for a 3 1/2 year assignment in Kansas City Missouri, as Philip was designated Chief Disbursing Officer for the western United States. Consequently, Steven started high school in Kansas City, Missouri, where he was an excellent student and athlete. However, he made his most significant mark on his high school debate team, once again setting the stage for his future legal career.
In 1969, at the beginning of Steven’s senior year in high school, Philip returned from his third deployment to Vietnam and the family was once again transferred to San Diego, California, where Steven graduated from Helix High School in La Mesa, California.
Although Steven’s academic success in high school and his numerous extracurricular achievements qualified him for entry to any number of universities and colleges, he chose to remain beautiful San Diego, California and attended San Diego State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 after completing a three year accelerated learning program.
Steven took a slight detour from his path to the law for a year and a half to pursue a Master’s Degree in Speech Communication. Nonetheless, the first love of his life eventually prevailed and he enrolled at the University of San Diego School of Law, where he graduated with honors in 1978, passing the California Bar Examination on his first try and “hanging his shingle” as a solo practitioner immediately thereafter.
The backstory to how a law school graduate with Steven’s incredible credentials ended up as a self-employed attorney involves a fascinating journey full of drama, despair and, eventually, amazing success.
The same work ethic Steven observed in his parents which enabled Attorney Steven M. Bishop to achieve significant academic success also invested him with very high moral standards. His focus was always on academics and sports, although not always in that order. While many of his peers experimented with the “temptations“ of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Steven remained driven to excel.
Phillip and Lillian Bishop were raised in Jewish homes but they effectively abandoned their religious background before having children. As a result, Steven and his brothers were raised in an agnostic environment. God simply was not a factor. The “morality“ of the Bishop home focused on doing whatever was necessary to obtain “success“. Philip and Lillian Bishop grew up in the midst of the Great Depression and for them, financial security was the ultimate achievement.
Nonetheless, after starting Law School, newly married, Steven for the first time in his life succumbed to peer pressure and became heavily involved in drugs, specifically, marijuana and cocaine. This resulted in the destruction of his marriage after less than a year.
Primarily due to a unique ability to focus on school while at the same time abusing drugs, Steven’s academic performance barely suffered. His personal life was another story.
His parents were understandably very disappointed in his new lifestyle. Although Steven worked full time throughout college and law school to finance his education and living expenses, he lost several jobs (and relationships) due to his drug use. Ultimately, Steven’s addictions led him to believe he would never be able to pass the California Bar Examination, despite stellar grades in school.
Consequently, while many less-qualified classmates were applying for and securing excellent employment opportunities, Steven refused numerous invitations to interview for jobs which he believed he would ultimately lose when the California Bar Results were released and his employer discovered he had not passed. His life spiraled into depression, anxiety and defeatism. I bNonetheless, his academic performance remained stellar.
Steven sat for the three-day Bar Examination in July 1978, after investing only 4 days in preparation. Convinced of his eventual failure (it took almost 5 months to receive results) Steven made an attempt at suicide the night he completed the Exam. Since you are reading this Profile you know it was one of the very few things Steven attempted in which he, fortunately failed.
After six days in a coma, Steven emerged and essentially returned to his same life/death style, outwardly unfazed by his actions but dreading the inevitable news and accompanying humiliation that he had failed the Bar Exam and his long-sought after career as a lawyer had crashed and burned like the rest of his life.
However, events took a dramatic turn in Steven’s life in late-October 1978. Almost one month to the day from when Bar Results would be released, Steven made the single most significant decision of his life- he cried out to God in a desperate search for escape from the oppressive madness of his existence. With no real understanding of what he was doing but motivated for anyway out of the vicious cycle of drugs and dependency, Steven took to heart the encouragement of his former wife, Ginny, and prayed for deliverance. He had absolutely no idea what might happen but his expectations were very low.
On October 28, 1978 Steven was “born again”, with zero understanding of what that meant or entailed.
Steven never used illegal drugs again. With no background or context in the Christian Faith, Steven embarked on this new journey with the same zeal and commitment which made him an excellent student. He immersed himself in Christian fellowship and the study of the Bible. He abandoned old habits, unhealthy relationships and destructive thought patterns.
God, in His infinite faithfulness, surrounded Steven with wonderful new friends who encouraged and supported him as he embraced his faith.
Nonetheless, Steven still expected to receive the devastating news in late November that he had failed the Bar Exam. He began carefully considering other career paths, including attending Bible College or completing his Master’s Degree and becoming a college teacher. Every option was new and exciting under the umbrella of his recently discovered relationship with an infinite God of Love.
But God had other plans. Apparently, the desire Steven had attributed to his own choosing turned out to be part of a Divine Plan for his future and to his shock and wonder Steven learned he had, in fact, passed the Bar Exam and was now a real life lawyer. The dream of an 11 year old boy became a reality, only the most recent of many miracles God would unfold along this path of faith.
Steven now faced some interesting decisions. He had basically abandoned the idea of being an attorney. A few phone calls revealed there were no openings for brand new lawyers. He could take a low paying job as a law clerk, return to college and continue to pursue a new career as a teacher, go to Bible School or take a shot at starting his own law practice.
In the little over a month that Steven had been a Christian he had realized that there really is a God who loves and cares for His creation. The people he had met were absolutely amazing. They loved the Lord, they loved each other and, most incredibly, they appeared to love him. Having been raised in a home where academic and financial achievement were the only criteria for acceptance, Steven encountered unconditional love in countless ways and expressions.
He felt “led” to take a chance that it really was God’s plan for him to be an attorney. He had some business cards and stationary printed, bought a typewriter (you can check that out on Wikipedia), got his new Christian roommates to allow him to use the dining room for an office and spread the word he was open for business.
But until the clients came knocking, Steven got a paper route with the San Diego Union, delivering newspapers (yes, they used to do that) at 5:00 a.m. every morning, 7 days a week, to pay the bills. He also got a job as a stock clerk at a grocery store. The old work ethic was still there.
On a whim, he put a flyer on his attorney letterhead in one of the Sunday papers introducing himself and offering “cutrate” legal services, emphasizing he was a “brand new” lawyer, learning the ropes.
The average income for a first year attorney in 1979 was $52,000. The top salary of a graduate from University of San Diego School of Law Class of 1978 was $75,000. Steven earned $120,000 his first year in practice, charging the outrageous fee of $25 an hour!! A star was born.
Steven did a little bit of everything, from defending drunk drivers to representing landlords in eviction proceedings to preparing Wills to defending contractors and small business owners in lawsuits. It was never dull.
Eventually his caseload required him to move from the dining room to rent an office in 1980 in Mission Valley, where he still practices after 40 years.
After less than a year Steven “inherited” a family law practice from two Christian lawyers who elected to go different directions. Although Steven had handled a few divorce cases in his young career, it now became an emphasis and eventually his specialty.
For most of his career Steven has been a sole practitioner, although he has employed several associates along the way. He currently works with attorney Benjamin Suskauer, an incredibly talented second year lawyer who began working for Steven as a clerk when he was a first year law student. Ben is a graduate of Arizona State University and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Class of 2018.
Steven is a Specialist in Family Law, Certified by the California Board of Legal Specialists. This certification is reserved for attorneys who comply with an exhaustive list of criteria, including the demonstration of highly skilled legal performance and standard of excellence combined with demanding peer review.
Steven has also served on numerous Committees for the San Diego Bar Association, including Chairperson of the San Diego Law Week Committee, the youngest attorney ever appointed to that position. In that capacity, Steven coordinated the appearance of Attorney General of the United States, Edwin Meese, as guest speaker at the Law Week Luncheon, still the best-attended event in its history.
In addition, Steven has served as lead Arbitrator with the San Diego Bar Association Attorney-Client Relations Committee, helping to resolve numerous disputes between family law lawyers and their clients.
Steven currently serves on a regular basis as a Judge Pro Tempore for the San Diego Family Court, a volunteer position which places him the role of mediating divorce cases before they end up in trial. Steven’s success rate as a Temporary Judge is reflective of his commitment to dispute resolution as an alternative to litigation.
Steven has been honored by his peers in the San Diego Family Law Bar Association with the prestigious CCP 128.5 Award, recognizing the respect he has deservedly earned in the field of Family Law.
As his law career began to develop in earnest, in 1982 Steven married Karen Reinke, a national College Champion tennis player and a devout Christian. God blessed them with five amazing children over the first 8 years of their marriage, Jeffrey, Trevor, Matthew, their only daughter, Kelly, and Joel. All five children graduated from La Jolla High School and much to Steven’s delight, all still make their home in San Diego.
Jeffrey is finishing up his coursework at Pt. Loma Nazarene University on the way to a career as a Marriage and Family Therapist. He is married to the former Dana Riley, who is also a Marriage and
Like his parents, Trevor graduated from San Diego State University with a business degree and as Director of Sales and Operations is part of the management team at San Diego based Pixter, one of the industry leaders in photo booth technology and marketing. He is married to the former Stacie Tharp, who is a Marketing Specialist for the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.
Matthew Bishop is also a graduate of San Diego State University and a practicing Psychotherapist, along with his partner/wolf/dog, Monty.
Kelly Bishop, now proudly Kelly Valdez, graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She and her adoring husband, Andy, teach at Christian High School. Kelly teaches High School Spanish and Andy teaches Middle School history.
Joel Bishop took a sabbatical from college after his first semester at San Diego State University to pursue a ministry with Youth With a Mission (YWAM), traveling around the world leading young men and women in pursuit of deeper relationships with God and one another. After being based in Denver, Colorado for 6 years he returned to his roots in San Diego and, like his oldest brother, is finishing college at Pt. Loma Nazarene University, pursuing a career as a Spiritual Director.
Steven’s marriage to Karen ended in 2007 but they continue to love and support their amazing children and look forward to being grandparents, hopefully soon.
Steven met Linda Stephens in 2010, introduced by mutual friends. They married in June 2011, Linda moving from her lifelong home in Northern California to join Steven in San Diego. They live in the idyllic suburb of Talmadge, where Linda, a former professional graphic artist and designer, has created a beautiful home and gardens for them to enjoy with their “child”, Hamilton, a 5 year old Boston Terrier/Beagle (a “boogle”) who they rescued at 1 1/2 years old. They remain madly in love.
Steven is involved in ministry at Faith Community Church, a vibrant assembly of evangelical Christians challenged by God to actively live out their faith by loving well, following well and serving well. Steven currently leads a weekly Men’s Bible Study and has facilitated a weekly Life Group. He has also taught Sunday School as a summer substitute.
Steven is an avid San Diego sports fan, unabashedly supporting local college and professional teams. He and his children have taken countless “road trips” to see the Padres, Aztecs (football and basketball) and Chargers (yes, he is still a fan) play (and mostly lose) many games. His children have often commented they wish their father had been a fan of more successful franchises so they could enjoy the “thrill of victory” more often than the “agony of defeat”.
When he is not working, Steven most enjoys spending time with Linda, Hamilton and his children. He loves the beach, any beach, and the island of Kauai is his favorite getaway. He spends several weeks there every summer.
He is also an avid reader, enjoying novels by his favorite authors along with Christian works, both contemporary and historic. He has recently been pleasantly surprised by the Podcasts and literary works referred to him by his son, Joel, which have expanded and challenged his journey of faith.
Linda, Steve and Hamilton love to travel and visit friends across the United States while exploring new venues. Recent trips have taken them, in add to Kauai, to the Sierra Nevada mountains, Seattle, San Francisco, Vermont, Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Richmond, Flagstaff and Oregon.