Law Office of Stephen B. Waller, LLC
I am an Albuquerque-based attorney in solo practice. By using secure, cloud-based technologies and eliminating unnecessary overhead, I am able to offer civil legal services that are responsive, flexible, and cost-effective.
Thank you for visiting this website. Perhaps you received my name from one of my current or former clients, or someone who previously consulted with me, or another attorney. Or perhaps you found this site through an Internet search. No matter how you got here, please call (505) 230-5959 to request a free, no-obligation, telephonic consultation to discuss your particular situation with me.
[I ask that you call, rather than send an e-mail or use this website's "Contact" tool, because it might waste your time to wait a few days or longer to speak with me, only to find out (for example) that I don't offer the particular legal service you need. Because of various attorney-ethics rules, I also need to check for possible conflicts of interest before I learn too much confidential information about you and your legal situation.]
Civil Litigation and Appeals
I practice in New Mexico state courts and federal district courts, primarily in civil (non-criminal) matters involving litigation, mediation, or arbitration, as well as preliminary efforts to resolve disputes informally (out of court).
I have also practiced in the New Mexico Court of Appeals, New Mexico Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
Sample areas of civil litigation and “pre-litigation” dispute-resolution efforts have included representation of commercial landlords, commercial tenants, commercial suppliers/vendors, home purchasers, and parties to other types of contracts.
I have represented creditors seeking to enforce their contractual rights through negotiation or (if necessary) litigation.
Bankruptcy. I have represented creditors seeking to assert their rights in New Mexico bankruptcy court proceedings after a debtor files for bankruptcy.
Probate. I have represented creditors seeking to enforce or preserve their rights in probate proceedings (following the death of a debtor).
Post-Judgment Investigation and Enforcement
People sometimes obtain court judgments (for money) against defendants who likely have the ability to pay the judgments, but simply don't want to.
Unfortunately, court judgments do not automatically result in payment, and it’s not uncommon for months or years to go by before a successful plaintiff realizes that more action is needed to actually get a judgment paid.
It also happens that even if two different people (as plaintiffs) obtain court money judgments against the same defendant, the defendant who is "first to act" after obtaining a judgment has more success than the other, regardless of whose judgment was entered first.
I have used post-judgment discovery and cost-effective research methods to identify and pursue judgment-debtor assets to satisfy court judgments. I have also initiated fraudulent-transfer (or voidable-transactions) proceedings to attempt to recover improperly-transferred assets.
If you have a court judgment that hasn’t been paid, and you fear that the party owing you money is attempting to avoid payment, I invite to you call me for a confidential discussion.
Also, please click here to get my free guide about enforcing civil monetary judgments in New Mexico.
Lease and Contract Enforcement
If you or your company are party to a commercial lease or other contract, and you believe that another party to that agreement has failed to comply with its obligations to you, it is important to take measured steps to enforce your rights. Informal communications such as e-mails, text messages, and phone calls can sometimes muddy the waters and have other negative consequences for one’s legal position.
I can carefully analyze your commercial lease (or other contract) together with any relevant facts; confidentially discuss your objectives; and attempt to have your concerns resolved without the need for litigation—all while laying the groundwork for litigation if it becomes necessary.
Civil Law Lawyer
About Law Office of Stephen B. Waller, LLC
What is a consultation?
A “consultation” means that you and I can have a preliminary, confidential conversation about your legal matter, with neither of us having any obligation to proceed toward an attorney-client engagement.
If you are concerned that I may ask you on-the-spot whether you want to hire me or not, please be assured that I won’t. In fact, one of the rules for New Mexico attorneys is that an engagement agreement must be in writing. The most I would ask, at the end of our call, is whether you want to talk again — and you don’t need to answer that until you’ve thought about it offline. If you tell me (then or later) that you would be interested in receiving a proposal from me, then I will write up a draft engagement agreement and send it to you — and even then, it’s fully up to you whether to sign it, discuss potential revisions, or take no action at all.
I tell people at the start of a consultation that “I’m going to interrupt you a lot.” If you own real property, I’ll ask: Who else is an owner or co-owner? If your question concerns a pending home-purchase, I’ll ask: Who are the sellers? Who are the real estate agents? Who are the home inspectors? New Mexico can seem like a "very small state" at times, and the purpose of such questions is to find out early on if there is some reason why I shouldn’t be receiving any confidential information from you. (For example, if someone you’re thinking of suing is already a client of mine, our consultation will necessarily be a brief one, for your protection.)
Likewise, if you if are calling about a lease or other contract, I’ll ask you for electronic copies of those documents and related materials so I can evaluate the situation.
How long does a consultation last? It all depends. Sometimes, I can quickly determine that a caller’s needs are outside my areas of practice, so I’m not a good fit. At other times, I may give the caller ideas about how the issue can be resolved without my involvement — but he/she can call me back if the problem persists. And sometimes we may need to have multiple discussions to figure out what the situation is, what your objectives are, and what (if anything) I can offer in terms of legal services.
Lots of attorney-advertising billboards tell you to “call me first.” But it doesn’t matter if me if you call me first, second, third, or even later on. I encourage callers to consult with other attorneys, using the State Bar of New Mexico's online directory or other resources to identify attorneys in the relevant areas. Whomever you consult with is your business, not mine.
You’d probably shop at more than one auto-dealer before purchasing a car, and litigation can often end up costing more than the price of a car. It pays to shop around.
If you are already thinking of calling a larger law firm (like one with its name on a building) to discuss your civil matter, then you probably should. But if you then call me second or third, you might get a different perspective on the matter. Or, you might find out (for free!) that my initial assessment of your situation is like one that you already obtained.
Then again, if you call me first or second, I might be able to provide you with information that helps you with your attorney-search. For example, sometimes a dispute that looks like a real-property issue may turn out to be a family-law issue. Or, depending on the situation, I can sometimes inform people of how they can take certain actions on their own to address their need without attorney involvement.
A lawyer should always keep learning, and my consultations often provide me with helpful information about the civil legal issues that people face. That’s another reason why I offer consultations for free, with no obligation to hire me.
In short: If you call me for a consultation, and I don’t immediately determine that your issue is outside my current areas of practice, then you might end up with some useful information, for free, with no obligation. So why not call?
Remember way, way back in the year 2019? When attending a “meeting” usually meant sharing the same room as other people and passing papers around? Well, I hardly remember it either.
Now that millions of us have learned how to collaborate remotely, I take full advantage of available tools to save time for my clients and me too. As just one example, my clients and I can securely communicate using the Clio for Clients smartphone app that is separate from an ordinary e-mail system.
Because of the "American Rule," most people in litigation are required to pay for their own attorneys’ fees and costs, no matter whether they win or lose. (There are exceptions, of course.) This in turn means that reducing the cost of litigation is a key factor in deciding on a legal strategy. Even if I can’t offer you services at a lower hourly cost than other attorneys, I can often propose some lower-cost approaches to try first, before determining whether additional efforts are needed.
Time flies, and I've now been a practicing attorney for nearly 17 years. But some other life adventures happened before that.
I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and attended Harvard University with the aid of a U.S. Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship. After graduating college in 1994, I received an officer’s commission in the U.S. Navy.
I entered the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and served as a nuclear-trained submarine officer aboard two fast-attack submarines based in Connecticut and Hawaii.
I later attended the MBA program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, receiving my MBA in Finance and Operations in 2001. I spent part of my final semester as a student at the ESADE business school in Barcelona, Spain, where I discovered my increasing interest in the legal field.
In 2006, I graduated from Harvard Law School, where I served as an editor/member of the Harvard Law Review.
I spent my first three years of law practice in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a finance associate at the national law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP.
In 2009, I moved to Albuquerque and joined the law firm of Miller Stratvert P.A. I primarily practiced in the areas of civil litigation and appeals, creditor representation, and utility representation. I became a director/shareholder in 2013 and departed in 2017 to open my solo practice. I say that I was "remote working before it was a thing," and now it is . . . just a thing.
I currently maintain law licenses in New Mexico (active) and New York (inactive).
I live in Albuquerque with my wife, two children, several dogs, and a calico cat who thinks she runs the place but who are we to disagree.
Civil Law Legal Team
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