Stephen (Steve) is a native Californian. He was born and raised in Upland, California, where his father was a small business owner for nearly 45 years and his Mother was an educator for over 20 years. Steve graduated from Damien High School in La Verne in 1991. His ties to the community on his mother’s side of the family date back to the early 1920’s, when his mother’s family settled in La Verne, California. When his mother and father married they moved to Upland, California. He attended California State University, San Bernardino and graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with minors in Philosophy and Political Science. He attended the University of La Verne Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review and received his Juris Doctor degree in 2005. Steve’s background includes over 15 years of banking experience with a major California bank.
Since he joined Mr. Banks in 2006, Steve has been the primary estate planning attorney for the firm and prides himself on his attention to detail and individual approach to each client. In addition to estate planning, Steve also handles Probate matters, Estate Administration and select civil litigation matters.
Jim was born in 1942 in Los Angeles, California. Jim’s father and grandmother were born in Ontario and Upland respectively, so he has deep roots in Western San Bernardino County. Jim attended local public schools followed by a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from U.C.L.A. Jim spent about two years with the Upland law firm Tobin & Gassner before going into practice with Joseph E. Johnston, later joined by J. Michael Welch and still later by Tom Ritchie.
Jim is married to Marsha Meek Banks, C.P.A. They are the parents of two daughters, Meaghan and Mackenzie. Marsha, Meaghan and Mackenzie are also Stanford graduates. Meaghan earned her Master’s degree from Brown and later her J.D. from Boalt Hall at Berkeley. Mackenzie earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School. Both daughters live and work in the San Francisco Bay area; one is married to an Apple engineer and the other to a Google engineer.
Jim has served on commissions for Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga, and has advised or served on boards for Ontario Community Hospital, Reach Out West End, Suicide and Crisis Intervention Service, Ontario Cemetery Association, the Etiwanda Historical Society, Concerned Citizens of Ontario, and various others. Concerned Citizens was a group composed of residents of south Ontario who were suffering under the take-off flight path of Ontario International Airport. Jim worked with the group on a pro bono basis for several years and helped the group force the movement of the runways about 1/2 mile east, thus diminishing the noise and pollution damaging the residents of south Ontario.
During the same period Jim worked on a pro bono basis helping a group of Latino activists to improve conditions in “North Town” Cucamonga. It was a very depressed area. The young men active in the group improved the community by buying, repairing and selling houses, retaining the receipts in their organization so they could buy more houses and repeat the process moving through the community. Jim formed two corporations; Proyecto Accion Sociale and Corporation Economica de Aztaln, both of which facilitated the community improvement plan.
Jim served as President of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association. While on the WSBCBA Board he authored the successful Conference of Delegates resolutions (1) to merge the Municipal Court into the Superior Court and (2) to take San Bernardino and Riverside Counties out of the State Bar district dominated by Orange County. Jim also negotiated an arrangement with the County Bar that would guarantee that members of the WSBCBA would serve on the County Bar Board and committees in proportion to attorney population, along with a 50% discount on County Bar dues for dual membership. The County Bar agreed to perform the clerical duties the WSBCBA could not afford to do itself. Jim authored a series of articles for the County Bar Bulletin about introducing the use of computers in law offices. The articles were later picked up by the State Bar for publication.
Jim served on the Board of the San Bernardino County Bar Association and was President in 1982/1983. Jim challenged the spending practices of Inland Counties Legal Services and obtained a ruling from the Federal government that San Bernardino must be treated equally with Riverside County. As President, Jim created a Judicial Recruiting Committee that took an active role in finding and promoting well qualified candidates for judicial appointment. The Committee’s first recommendation was Art McKinster. Jim initiated the sponsorship of a computer show that produced substantial revenue for the County Bar for several years, putting the County Bar on its soundest financial footing. Much later, Jim wrote the estate plan (and testified on its behalf) that allowed the County Bar to buy its building in San Bernardino. After his Presidency Jim was given the John B. Surr award recognizing his work for the community in general and the County Bar. At that time he was the youngest person to receive the Surr Award.
In 2019 the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association gave Jim the “lifetime Achievement Award” for his work in the community and on behalf of the Bar Association. Jim then became the second attorney to receive both the Surr Award from the County Bar and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Bar. The first to receive both awards was Florentino Garza who, coincidentally — many years earlier — had acquainted Jim with UCLA Law School and encouraged him to apply there.
Jim’s other interests include American history, music and basketball. He is very proud of the fact that he made the basketball team at Stanford. He said, “–not bad for a guy who was half blind and didn’t know it.” Jim added that even though he could run faster and jump higher than the other “big guys” on the team, the truth is that they kept me because I was the same size as the UCLA center and they expected he could not push me around as he had done with most of the tall, skinny guys.
Mr. Banks is also an active member of the Choroideremia Research Foundation, an organization that provides support and information to those affected by Choroideremia (CHM). If you have questions about Jim’s eyesight, one of his friends has written an article called “This Dark World“. If you have more detailed questions about it, you can read about it at the website of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. There you click on “other retinal diseases” and then “choroideremia”. Another explanatory web site is the Choroideremia Research Foundation. There you can click on “additional links”. You should also feel free to ask Jim about it if you wish.
Jackie is the litigation manager for the firm. She processes most of the firm’s court filing, business documents and probate filings.
Kelly handles the firm’s bookkeeping, accounting and billing and the administrative work in connection with Wills and Trusts. Kelly also assists with the processing of court filings and assists Jackie with our probate cases.