Government, Administrative, and Appellate Attorney

Shareholder and Firm President Bob Steringer represents public bodies, political organizations, regulated businesses and private individuals in matters at the intersection of law and public policy. Drawing on experience inside and outside government, Bob provides general counsel services and litigates disputes in judicial and administrative venues on matters that include:

  • Constitutional law
  • State agency rulemaking & regulation
  • Public records & open meetings law
  • Government ethics
  • Election and campaign finance regulation
  • Lobbying regulation
  • Public contracting & prevailing wage
  • Intergovernmental relations
  • Intra-organizational disputes
  • Public Employee Retirement System
  • Professional licensing

Bob also represents business clients in purely private matters, such as ownership disputes, breaches of contracts, and professional liability.

Bob is best known for his work on behalf of clients in appellate courts – the Oregon Supreme Court, Oregon Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Washington Court of Appeals – for which he is recognized by Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers.  He also represents clients in state and federal trial courts, as well as state administrative agencies.

How I Serve Clients

Winning a verdict or an appeal is a great accomplishment, but I derive the greatest professional satisfaction from achieving a result for my client that is better than we could have achieved in court.  To do that, I make sure I understand my client’s broader objectives beyond the dispute in front of us, and then work creatively and persistently to win the war, not just the battle.

Representative Matters - Trial & Appellate

  • Counsel to an educational institution in litigation challenging the decision to expel a graduate student for possessing a deadly weapon on campus.
  • Prevailed at trial and on appeal on behalf of an intervening water district in election challenge lawsuit, successfully defending its position on the legal status of district residents within annexed territory. Clackamas County Oregon v. Clackamas River Water, 280 Or App 366 (2016).
  • Obtained jury verdict for $223,832.05 on promissory estoppel claim relating to ownership of a corporation, in Lane County Circuit Court (2013).
  • Obtained judgment of foreclosure on hotel property and money award of $2,744,647.33 plus interest, costs and attorney fees, in Clatsop County Circuit Court (2012).
  • Filed amicus brief in Oregon Supreme Court on behalf of Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems, Oregon Medical Association and American Medical Association in Paul v. Providence Health System-Oregon, relating to liability of a health care provider for theft of patient information by a third party (2012).
  • Successfully defended trial court judgment affirming city’s creation of a local improvement district, 241 Or App 378 (2011).
  • Obtained reversal of trial court judgment dismissing client’s claim for declaratory judgment that client was a shareholder of a corporation, 241 Or App 255 (2011).
  • Filed amicus brief on behalf of Oregon Association of Defense Counsel in Cohens v. McGee, 219 Or App 78 (2008), and White v. Jubitz Corp., 347 Or 212 (2009) (both relating to the question of whether written-off medical bills are recoverable as economic damages in negligence cases).
  • Successfully defended trial court judgment on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming summary judgment in favor of municipality and police officer in claim for negligence and violation of Fourth Amendment rights (unpublished opinion) (2009).
  • Successfully defended trial court judgment on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming summary judgment in favor of client in Section 1983 claims asserting violations of various constitutional rights (unpublished opinion) (2009).
  • Filed amicus brief in Oregon Supreme Court on behalf of Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems in Christiansen v. Providence Health System, 344 Or 445 (2008) (relating to application of the Oregon Constitution’s “remedy clause” to a claim for prenatal injuries).
  • Obtained decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals remanding order of Oregon Public Utility Commission for reconsideration due to PUC’s incorrect interpretation of state law, 224 Or App 485 (2008).
  • Obtained decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals affirming, without opinion, a judgment in favor of client against claim for professional negligence, 203 Or App 639 (2006).
  • Obtained reversal of trial court’s decision to dismiss client’s negligence claim based on standards for sufficiency of expert testimony, 200 Or App 15 (2005).

Representative Matters - Public Body General & Special Counsel

General Counsel Services
  • Provide on-call and in-meeting advice to administrators and elected officials on all legal issues facing public bodies.
  • Orient new governing board members on their powers and responsibilities.
  • Instruct governing boards on compliance with Oregon’s Open Meetings Law, including the proper use of executive sessions.
  • Advise government officials on the processing of public records requests, including meeting deadlines and proper application of exemptions.
  • Defend local governments in appeals from decisions on public records, both before the district attorney and in the circuit court.
  • Advise on government ethics regulations relating to conflicts of interest, use of office for private gain, and gift limits, including representation before Oregon Government Ethics Commission.
  • Draft, negotiate, interpret, and advise on formation of intergovernmental agreements.
  • Advise on public contracting and procurement.
  • Advise on and negotiate real property transactions.
Special Counsel Engagements
  • Defended district’s interests in cases brought by former board members relating to board vacancies and allegations of misconduct by district in connection with the election of commissioners.
  • Advised coalition of local governments on formation of intergovernmental organization to respond to oil spill and fire following train derailment, and negotiate multimillion-dollar settlement relating to same.
  • Represented local government in proceedings under ORS 33.710 to validate government actions in connection with bond financing for capital construction projects.
  • Represented local governments in disputes with the Public Employees Retirement System relating to membership eligibility and employer contributions.
  • Represented local government in OR-OSHA matters.
  • Advised a city council on negotiation of contract for the transfer of rights to operate major recreation area, including provisions to secure environmental protections and protect the public’s rights to assets.
  • Advised on negotiation of multimillion-dollar contract for municipal utility customer service software system, providing timely advice on establishing clear performance requirements on the part of the contractor and protecting client’s interests in the event of breach.
  • Defended public university in litigation challenging the decision to expel a graduate student for possessing a deadly weapon on campus.
  • Defended public university official in professional licensing matters relating to counseling center work.
 

Bar Admissions

  • Oregon State Bar
  • Washington State Bar
  • U.S. District Court for the State of Oregon
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Professional Recognition

  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated with Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of appellate practice and commercial litigation in every edition since 2013.
  • Elected as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation (2014 – present) (an honorary organization of lawyers, judges and legal scholars whose careers have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession, limited to one-third of one-percent of the lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction of the United States)
  • Selected to Super Lawyers® for appellate law 2015-2017

Other Professional Memberships

  • Multnomah Bar Association (Board of Directors 2012-2017, President 2015-2016)
  • Oregon State Bar Constitutional Law Section (Executive Committee 2009-2015, Chair 2014)
  • MBA Professionalism Committee (Chair 2011-2012)
  • Oregon State Bar’s Public Service Advisory Committee
  • MBA Pro Bono Task Force
  • Multnomah Bar Association’s Mentor Program
  • Oregon State Bar’s New Lawyer Mentoring Program, Mentor
  • J.D., University of Oregon School of Law (1998)
    • Executive Editor of the Oregon Law Review
  • B.A., cum laude, University of Oregon (1994)

Publications

  • Co-Author with Hon. Ellen F. Rosenblum and Denise G. Fjordbeck: 2016 update to “Agency Authority and Functions,” Chapter 1 in Oregon Administrative Law, Oregon State Bar publication.
  • Co-Author: Oregon chapter in “Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance – 50 State Handbook,” published annually by the State Capital Group through Thomson Reuters/West (2009-2018).
  • Co-Author with Brett Applegate: “Dave Frohnmayer in the United States Supreme Court,” The Oregon Constitutional Law Newsletter (Winter 2016).
  • “Elephant in the Room,” Multnomah Bar Association’s Multnomah Lawyer (Summer 2015).
  • Co-Author with Brett Applegate: “When Stranahan Doesn’t Get You Where You Need to Go – Advocating for New Approaches to Interpreting the Oregon Constitution,” Oregon State Bar’s Oregon Constitutional Law Newsletter (Summer 2014).
  • Member of the Board of Editors: Oregon Constitutional Law (2013 ed.), Oregon State Bar publication (winner of the Association for Continuing Legal Education’s “Best Award” of Outstanding Achievement in Publications).
  • Author: “Contract Clause,” Chapter 8 in Oregon Constitutional Law (2013 ed.), Oregon State Bar publication.
  • Author: “Is a Lobbyist’s Gift to a Public Official an Empty Gesture?” in Oregon State Bar Constitutional Law Section’s March 2011 Newsletter (analyzed Oregon Supreme Court case regarding constitutionality of statutes regulating gifts from lobbyists to elected officials).
  • Co-Author with James E. Mountain, Jr. and Jona J. Maukonen:  “Postdecision Matters in the Court of Appeals,” Chapter 11 in Appeal and Review: the Basics (2010 ed.), Oregon State Bar publication.
  • Author: “Litigating the ‘Fair Value’ of a Business Organization,” published in Winter 2011 edition of The Verdict (OADC publication) (explored strategies for litigating “fair value” in business break-ups).
  • Co-author with Susan D. Marmaduke: “Abandoning ‘We Can’t Tell,’” Oregon State Bar Bulletin, 2003 (analyzed the power vested in the judiciary to affirm judgments notwithstanding trial court errors, comparing the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision in Shoup v. Wal-Mart Stores with Amended Article VII, section 3, of the Oregon Constitution).
  • Author: “The Clergy-Penitent Privilege in Oregon,” Oregon Law Review, 1997 (analyzed the history and application of Oregon’s clergy-penitent privilege in the context of a news-making dispute over the recording of a conversation between a jail inmate and a Catholic priest).
  • Co-author of Introduction with Kurt Wanless: “Oregon Land Use Symposium – The Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of S.B. 100,” Oregon Law Review, 1998.

Presentations

  • “Top Five Executive Session Traps,” Special Districts Association of Oregon Annual Conference (February 2018).
  • “Administrative Rule Challenges,” Administrative Law CLE (November 2015).
  • “Any Port in a Storm: Stays of Agency Orders Pending Judicial Review,” Northwest Administrative Law Institute, with James W. Nass and Averil Budge Rothrock (September 2014).