“My goal is to outwork the competition. That’s something I pride myself on. It’s something I learned from my father growing up and from the attorneys who I’ve had the good fortune to know and work with throughout my career. I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and get to the bottom of a case,” says Kevin Estevez, partner at Lang & Klain, P.C., a Scottsdale commercial litigation and construction law firm.
For its construction clients, Lang & Klain, P.C. provides industry-specific services in litigation, contract formation, payment rights, ROC licensing and complaints, and compliance with federal wage and hour requirements.
“Ninety percent of my work is commercial litigation, which includes construction related disputes. Early in my career, I heard construction law referred to as commercial litigation with a twist, and I think that is an accurate description,” Estevez says.
The balance of his work is transactional, focusing primarily on reviewing, drafting and negotiating construction contracts. He says, “The two areas of my practice are complementary. My transactional work helps me to be a better construction litigator insofar as it allows me to see how things are put together on the front end of a deal. Conversely, being a litigator helps me in my transactional work. I know the issues that typically lead to litigation, so I can identify and attempt to mitigate those issues for my clients.”
Construction law is constantly changing and Estevez works hard to keep up with developments in the industry, including statutory and regulatory changes and new case law. “I publish a blog titled, ‘Arizona Construction and the Law.’ It started as a marketing endeavor, but I have found that it has the added benefit of ensuring that I am current on changes affecting the construction industry.”
His construction clients include project owners, contractors, sub-contractors and material suppliers. Outside of construction, he has a diverse client base. “I have represented many types of businesses, including banks, commercial developers, landlords and marketing companies. Typical disputes can range from collection matters to partnership disputes and business divorces,” he says.
Inspired and Still Inspired by Attorneys
Estevez credits his early interest in the law to his love for reading and writing, and influential attorneys with whom he became acquainted as a young man.
“Growing up we had family friends who were attorneys, and they were people I respected and admired. I also loved to read and write, which I knew I would not be doing a whole lot if I pursued a career in my undergraduate majors. So I thought at that time that a legal career might be something I’d like to do after graduating from college,” he says.
Estevez earned his undergraduate degree in marketing and finance from the University of Arizona before turning his attention to becoming a lawyer. He received his law degree in 2005 from Arizona State University, where a course sparked his interest in construction law. “It was an incredibly informative and practical course taught by two prominent practitioners. I knew nothing about construction law going in, and what I learned in that class provides the foundation for much of what I do on a daily basis. I am very fortunate to have taken it,” he says.
After law school, Estevez found the real-world practice of law somewhat different from what he had expected – surprisingly and pleasantly different. “Like many law students, I had the misimpression that every aspect of litigation is combative in nature, including dealings with opposing counsel. But I quickly learned that I am lucky to be part of a great legal community. I find that in nearly every instance I have good working relationships with opposing counsel, which ultimately benefits my clients.”
In fact, Estevez’s first trial was against one of his current partners, Bill Klain. “I was given the opportunity to handle my first trial a few months after I was admitted to practice and Bill was on the other side. We still give one another a hard time about that trial,” Estevez says. Not too long after the trial ended he found himself working as an attorney at what is now Lang & Klain, P.C.
“It’s a great place to work. As a young attorney, I was very fortunate to have been mentored by Bill Klain and Kent Lang. But beyond that, I love my firm’s culture. Everyone takes their work seriously, but we have a very collegial atmosphere. There are no closed doors here, metaphorically speaking. It’s an environment where everyone is willing and ready to lend a hand. We regularly bounce ideas off one another, which is one of the things I like best about my firm,” he says.
When managing a legal team Estevez likes to get people involved in each case. “Provided they are ready, I like to give the associate attorneys who work with me the opportunity to spread their wings. I think that’s one of the most effective ways an attorney can learn. I was given that opportunity when I was in their position, and, as a result, I think that it is very important,” he says.
Estevez also credits his involvement with the Scottsdale Bar Association for contributing to his professional development. “I have been a member of the Scottsdale Bar Association for nearly 10 years and a member of its board of directors since 2011. This past year, I have had the honor of serving as president of the association, and it has been a terrific experience.
Estevez’s term as president came to an end in April, but he finds satisfaction in having made a contribution during his watch. “I know I am biased, but I think we are the best local bar association around. We have a great membership that is very committed to the organization, and we try to provide enjoyable and rewarding events for our members, including our monthly luncheons, pro bono opportunities, semi-annual social events, and our annual golf tournament,” he says.
Effective service is the guiding principle of his work with his clients. Estevez sees his clients’ lives beyond the office, meeting room or court and works to provide advice that helps each client move on and achieve success in business. Often, that service requires Estevez to sit down with clients and address situations in a cost-effective and business-like manner. “I inform my clients of the likely costs and ramifications of the various available courses of actions. Under the banner of cost I include time, energy and the emotional toll that an action can take not only on a client’s business, but on their personal life,” he says.
Estevez defines a good day at work as a day full of helping people solve problems and taking steps to that end. “I want to be the best attorney I can be for my clients – to be someone who is going to give them frank and honest advice about problems they’re facing and the potential outcomes of those problems and to help guide them in whatever direction they ultimately decide to go.”
He says, “I like to be challenged and that’s one of the great things about commercial litigation. There are always new issues. No two cases are ever the same. I feel that I am constantly learning and improving, which I strive for. Each day, I want to be better than I was the day before in all aspects of my life.”
Estevez is married to his high school sweetheart. Their 12-year marriage has produced a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son. Much of his time away from the office is devoted to family and family activities. “We do a lot together as a family. My kids play sports and I have had the privilege of coaching their various soccer and basketball teams. It is something that I love doing and very much look forward to,” he says.