760-579-7694 jstine@jstinelaw.com

Joseph L. Stine

About Joseph and his Philosophy

About Joseph Stine

Joseph Stine Law specializes in real estate law, local government, and business-related legal issues. I have practiced law in California for over thirty-five years and worked in northern San Diego County since the mid-1980s. I served for fourteen years as an in-house public sector attorney – Superior Court research attorney working for judges, deputy district attorney prosecuting crime, and assistant city attorney responsible for a wide range of municipal issues.    In the private sector, I have had a broad, primarily civil private practice with focus on real estate law, local government, and business-related legal issues.  I hold the highest ranking of “master” in the Lopardo Chapter of the American Inns of Court, a prestigious international association of legal professionals.

In August 2000, I left my position as the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Oceanside to open a North County private law /ADR office. My present office is located in a comfortable, modern professional office complex in the Palomar Airport area of Carlsbad.

On the law practice side, my clients are primarily individuals and small businesses in northern San Diego County.  They have periodic needs for a civil attorney who understands the applicable law and is experienced in handling legal concerns similar to their own.  In most instances, they desire to have their matter resolved without protracted, expensive litigation.

On the ADR practice side, I have mediated to settlement hundreds of civil disputes since the early 1990s using individualized approaches suited to the needs of each particular case.  The San Diego Superior Court has appointed me as mediator in over 400 civil cases.  Litigation attorneys privately retain me to mediate disputes over real estate, business, personal injuries, inheritances, homeowners associations, and other matters.  I also am periodically selected to arbitrate or otherwise hear evidence and make awards in a variety of contested civil claims, including public employee disability retirement applications.  My extensive working knowledge of ADR has been shared in a dozen published articles and over 20 presentations to judges, attorneys, and the general public.

Volunteer public service is an important part of my professional life. I regularly serve the San Diego Superior Court as a temporary judge presiding over small claims cases and as a settlement officer handling contracts, collections, and real estate actions.  I am the 2016 President of the 900-plus member North County Bar Association and a member of Executive Committee of the Lopardo Chapter of the American Inns of Court.  My community involvement has included service as a trustee for the San Dieguito Union High School District (2003-04) and board member, including president, of an HOA for a large master planned community in La Costa (2005-08).

On the personal side, I am the eldest son of a successful contractor and businessman who grew up in Encinitas during the 1960s. I live with my wife in Carlsbad and have two college-educated daughters in their mid-twenties.  My interests include health and fitness, professional sports, politics and public affairs, and travel (both international and U.S.).  I am an accomplished tri-athlete regularly competing in San Diego County sprint level competitions.



At one time or another, you may be involved in a dispute over money, business, or real estate.  Someone refuses to pay what is owed to you, damages your business, or prevents you from fully enjoying your home.  You object to a demand made against you by a private attorney or public agency. Sometimes the demand threatens litigation if you don’t do as instructed.

My practice is dedicated to providing effective, affordable legal service to individuals and businesses which have civil claims or have claims brought against them.
If you are a claimant, I can objectively evaluate the merits of your claim, optimal strategies for pursuing it, and the probable costs associated with each strategy.  You can then make an informed decision as whether and, if so, how to proceed.  In many cases, I can represent you in moving forward on the claim in an aggressive, yet cost effective manner.

If a claim is made against you, I can explain your potential liability and any possible defenses that could reduce, if not eliminate, your exposure.  For claims without legal merit, a vigorous defense and possible counterclaim are generally advisable.  For claims with possible merit, I can alert you to strategies for limiting your risk of loss, protecting your interests, and promoting a negotiated resolution without burdensome, protracted litigation.

I believe that in civil disputes legal action should be used sparingly and only as a last resort. Abraham Lincoln was right when he advised attorneys to be cautious about filing lawsuits to resolve commonplace conflicts. Lincoln’s words are as important today in twenty-first century California as they were when he spoke them as a lawyer practicing in nineteenth century Illinois.  People with basic money or property claims are typically ill-prepared and often not well-served by litigation.  In many cases, they are better off reaching a fair, reasonable accommodation with an adverse party rather than investing substantial resources in a lengthy lawsuit.  They need an attorney who can effectively advocate for them, develop viable legal options for resolution of their dispute, and negotiate a good settlement that serves their interests.

My style of law practice places a premium on finding solutions to legal problems before a lawsuit is filed and, if there is litigation, continuing to explore settlement possibilities while aggressively representing the client in court.  In many instances, I have resolved conflicts over money, business, and real estate without a lawsuit.  In litigated cases, I have had considerable success in negotiating settlements acceptable to clients without the expense and risk of trial.

In sum, my philosophy of law practice is to vigorously advocate in support of the client’s legal position while keeping an open dialogue with attorneys representing opposing parties on possible approaches for settling the dispute.

What To Expect

My law practice is dedicated to providing a wide range of effective, affordable legal service to individuals as well as small to mid-sized businesses in civil matters.  I concentrate on legal matters related to contracts, local government, and real estate.  Most of my clients retain me to handle special assignments on an ad hoc basis.  Other clients, typically businesses or associations, engage me to provide legal counsel and represent them on a continuing basis.

If you have a legal question of concern, you are invited to call or email me for a complimentary initial review. If it involves an area of practice referenced on my Homepage, I typically will invite you to the office for an initial consultation in order to provide a more definitive evaluation and assessment.  (When an office consultation is not practical, I may be able to assist you by telephone or email.) In the consultation, I listen to your concerns about money, property, agreements, or litigation, examine the facts, analyze relevant documents, evaluate your rights and duties, and suggest appropriate legal options. When appropriate, I offer to contact opposing parties or their counsel, prepare legal documents, respond to civil complaints, or provide other legal services as needed.

  • Services are generally provided on an hourly fee basis.  In most instances, clients are asked to provide a deposit retainer that is placed in a trust account to pay for anticipated legal expenses.  Account statements are mailed to the client detailing the charges incurred during the prior month.  Client affairs are handled in a confidential, business-like, yet personal manner. Fees are offered at rates that are typically less than those charged for similar services by large law firms with high overhead costs of practice.
  • Every effort is made to kept clients fully and timely advised of the status of all legal services.  Copies of important documents are routinely sent to them.  Phone call and email inquiries are promptly answered.  The client is provided “straight answers”, in plain English, to all questions and concerns.  The lines of communication are always open so that the client can make an informed decision on the best course of action.
  • My clients generally have limited financial resources to dedicate to their legal concern. Every effort is to prudently allocate these resources in the most cost effective manner. A premium is placed on settling client disputes as soon as possible before legal services become prohibitively expensive for them. Document review, drafting, and negotiation services also are provided at affordable fees estimated at the time of my retention.
Education & Credentials

1970 – 72
Attended University of California, San Diego

1972 – 74
Attended University of California, Santa Barbara

Graduated B.A., Political Science (high honors)

1974 – 77
Attended University of San Diego, School of Law

Graduated J.D.

Associations & Memberships
2016 President of the North County Bar Association