Steve Thienel has been exposed to and thrived in various cultures—academic, small business, and major corporations—while being surrounded by passionate and successful people. Steve’s sweeping professional interests ensures his ability to effectively serve clients over a broad spectrum of business needs. Following a successful career teaching, consulting, and being a corporate manager, Steve acted upon his passion to team with successful entrepreneurs because of their motivation, creativity, and contributions to the betterment of society.
Steve has focused on issues relating to owning and running a business—contracts, employee relations, real estate transactions, taxation, creditor rights (bankruptcy), and estate planning. The ultimate compliment from Steve’s clients is they return for his legal services, time and again.
Client surveys report that he has “exceptional problem solving skills” and is “prompt and knowledgeable,” “attentive,” “thorough,” “responsive,” “cares about me and my issues,” and is “friendly and even-tempered.”
In addition to small businesses and individuals, Steve’s clients include public charities, churches, educational institutions, clubs, homeowners’ associations, foundations, estates, and trusts. Typical business sectors represented include government contractors, technology firms, manufacturers, financial services, retailers, restaurants, franchisees, auto racing, and professional practices. Steve’s varied clients seek assistance with tax compliance and controversy; contract negotiation, drafting, and enforcement; employment disputes; wills and powers of attorney; estate administration; and retirement and pension issues. While his practice predominantly focuses on business transactions and tax matters, Steve has litigated over 300 cases in jurisdictions ranging from District Courts to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Steve knows both sides of the attorney/client equation as he worked in a corporate capacity retaining attorneys prior to becoming an attorney and then, after entering private practice, retaining and managing other attorneys joining as team members to address client needs. From this firsthand experience, he knows what you as a client expect from an attorney—and perhaps more importantly, what you do not expect. Business clients want an attorney that is experienced, knowledgeable, and possesses character. Clients seek an attorney that shares the same values and is willing to work collaboratively to achieve agreed-upon goals. Steve teams with his clients to seize business opportunities, solve problems, and collaborate with experts and other attorneys as appropriate.
Before work in private practice, Steve had a substantive 24-year career with the transportation giant, CSX Corporation, holding senior-level positions in finance, executive, law and government affairs. While Assistant Vice President of Cost & Economic Analysis, Steve had responsibility for screening proposed capital expenditures prior to submission to the Board of Directors for approval. Steve served in the company’s executive department as chief of staff to the President before assuming the position of Regional Vice President for State Relations (District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania), where he represented the company’s interests before state and local governments. During his CSX career, Steve was prominently involved in the merging of the Chessie and Seaboard railroads to form CSX, and the acquisition of Conrail. Steve negotiated many prominent agreements with the State of Maryland for MARC commuter rail service, Seagirt port facilities, and the sale of property for the Cumberland C&O Canal Place.
Concurrently with his business career, Steve was an adjunct faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School for 10 years in its Master of Business Administration program. For several of these years, he headed the economics department while teaching graduate economics and finance courses.
Steve’s unique ability to work with diverse interests was recognized by Governor Schaefer when he appointed Steve to the Maryland Greenways Commission to form a system of interconnecting recreation trails and wildlife corridors to link protective buffers along Maryland’s waterways. Governor Schaefer again appointed Steve to his Flood Mitigation Task Force for Western Maryland to study flooding and develop long-term solutions to prevent or minimize local disasters. Steve was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and reappointed by Governor Mark Schweicker to the Pennsylvania Rail Freight Advisory Committee to provide guidance on developing state transportation policy and funding.
Steve served as a board member of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Children’s Cancer Foundation. As Treasurer of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Steve is a graduate and member of Leadership Maryland, an independent statewide leadership program to develop informed senior-level leaders, and a member of Vistage, a global community of business professionals committed to growing, learning and becoming better leaders.
A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Steve attended Herndon High School, where he excelled in both academics and extracurricular activities (varsity football and basketball; Virginia All-State Band). He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Washington & Lee University while a member of the swim team. Steve earned a Master of Arts degree in economics from Virginia Tech, studying under Nobel Laureate James Buchanan while teaching undergraduate economics courses. He was awarded a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maryland and a Master of Laws in Taxation degree from the University of Baltimore.
Steve is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, and has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the District of Maryland and the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Tax Court. He is a member of the bar associations of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.
Columbia, MD Business LawyersVersatile, passionate, and persevering in all endeavors, Steve has entered—and completed—64 marathons, including Boston, Chicago, Marine Corps, and Richmond. He was USA Triathlon’s 2012 Mid-Atlantic Grand Master Champion at the Ironman distance (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike; and 26.2-mile run) and an Ironman Maryland 2014 finisher.
- Maryland, 1998
- District of Columbia, 2000
- Virginia, 2016
- U.S. Supreme Court, 2004
- U.S. Tax Court, 2003
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 2013
- U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, 1999
- University of Baltimore School of Law, Baltimore, Maryland
- LL.M. – 2004
- Major: Taxation
- University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, Maryland
- J.D. – 1998
- Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
- M.A. – 1977
- Major: Economics
- Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Virginia
- B.A. – 1975
- Major: Economics
- Adjunct Faculty Member and Dept. Head, Economics and Finance, Johns Hopkins University 1992 – 2001
Professional Associations and Memberships
- American Bar Association
- Maryland Bar Association
- DC Bar Association
- Virginia Bar Association
- Howard County Bar Association
Past Employment Positions
- CSX Corporation, Baltimore, MD, Regional Vice President, 1991 – 2004
- CSX Corporation, Baltimore, MD, Assistant Vice President and Assistant to the President, 1989 – 1991
- CSX Corporation, Baltimore, MD, Assistant Vice President, Cost & Economic Analysis, 1986 – 1989
- Seaboard System Railroad, Jacksonville, FL, Director, Business Economics & Development, 1983 – 1986