Steven Bader is an appellate and litigation attorney. He enjoys working with his clients to develop cost-effective solutions to complicated legal problems. His background and experiences allow him to help clients in various settings.


Steven is chair of the firm’s Appellate Law Practice Group. In this role, he has served as lead counsel on more than 30 appeals in state and federal courts.

Steven is a clear writer and engaging oral advocate. Steven avoids esoteric and abstract theory and focuses on the real stakes at issue in each case. He analyzes the issues in a concise and comprehensive manner. And in the process, Steven makes sure that his client’s story is told. This approach helps Steven guide the appellate court to a result supported by the law and the facts.

As appellate counsel, Steven has represented state actors in immunity and governmental powers cases, professionals sued for malpractice, and businesses in class-action litigation. His case experience includes everything from novel statutory interpretation questions to matters that test the boundaries of North Carolina common law.

Steven has appeared and argued multiple times before the North Carolina Supreme Court, the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Steven was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America®: Ones to Watch in the field of Appellate Practice (2022-23) and North Carolina Super Lawyers Rising Stars (2022).


Steven maintains an active litigation practice, defending businesses and individuals in casualty matters, including wrongful death suits, personal injury claims, construction defect litigation, and professional liability lawsuits.

Much of this practice is concentrated on defending retail and hospitality businesses, landlords and apartments, and other businesses sued by customers or patrons. This includes premises liability suits, negligence supervision/retention allegations, liquor liability claims, falling merchandise claims, and the like. Steven is often called to assist with pre-suit investigations following a loss. Steven takes pride in helping clients in the retail and hospitality space protect their brand.

Steven is a detail-oriented advocate who stays focused on the big picture. Most lawsuits come down to one or two big issues. Steven works with his clients to focus on these determinative questions and position the defense for a favorable outcome, whether that comes through settlement, motion practice, or trial. Steven maintains an AV rating with Martindale Hubbell.


Steven advises insurance carriers on coverage issues in first- and third-party claims. He works with carriers to resolve murky and unsettled coverage issues in a pragmatic and thoughtful way.

Steven is often called upon to represent carriers in declaratory judgment actions, including business interruption claims stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting government shut-down orders. Steven has obtained favorable dispositive motion rulings for carriers in first-party suits. He also has experience trying first-party insurance coverage cases to jury in federal court. Steven was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America®: Ones to Watch in the field of Insurance Law (2023).


Prior to joining Cranfill Sumner in 2019, Steven partnered at a mid-sized insurance defense firm in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Steven briefed and argued numerous cases before the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court. He also tried more than a dozen cases to jury. Steven was named a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2019.

Steven is a member of the Defense Research Institute (DRI) and the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys. He has published articles in For the Defense (monthly publication of DRI), Minnesota Defense, and Bench and Bar of Minnesota.

Steven is a cum laude graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law where he served as articles editor of the Gonzaga Law Review, an associate editor of the Gonzaga Journal of International Law, a research assistant, and a judicial extern at the Washington Court of Appeals. After law school, he started his legal career as a judicial law clerk in Minnesota District Court. Steven earned his undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Saint Cloud State University (Minnesota), where he was captain of the men’s track and field team.

Steven and his wife, who is also an attorney in Raleigh, are parents to three young boys and two energetic German Shepherds. When not practicing law (or watching his boys play soccer), Steven enjoys running, reading, history, and cooking.


  • “Communicable Disease Coverage in the Age of COVID-19,” DRI, For the Defense, Vol. 64, No. 1, January 2022
  • “The Last Line of Defense: The ISO Virus Exclusion Meets COVID-19 Business Interruption Suits” (co-author with CSH colleague Jennifer Welch) DRI, For the Defense, Vol. 62, No. 12, December 2020
  • “Down on the Farm: Does the Pollution Exclusion Remove Coverage for E. Coli Infections Linked to Petting Zoos” DRI, For the Defense, Vol. 61, No. 7, July 2019
  • “Supreme Shift: Lessons the Defense Bar Can Learn from Recent Supreme Court Opinions” Minnesota Defense, Volume 39, Issue 3, Fall 2018
  • “Join the Retail and Hospitality Committee” (co-author), Minnesota Defense, Volume 38, Issue 2, Summer 2017
  • “Develop Effective Trial Themes from Discovery to Trial” Featured Article, DRI Trials and Tribulations, the Newsletter of the Trial Tactics Committee, Volume 22, Issue 4
  • “The Joke is on Your Client: An Analysis of Liability Coverage and Defense for the Creators of Online Parody Accounts” DRI, For the Defense, Vol. 57, No. 4, April 2015
  • “Every Dog Has its Day (In Court) – Defending Dog Attack Cases in Minnesota” Minnesota Defense, Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring 2014
  • “When the Grass Turns Brown: Prosecuting Marijuana Mixtures in Minnesota” Bench and Bar of Minnesota, Volume LXIX Number 1, January 2012

Most Recent Posts


Our Top 10 Resources of 2023

Throughout the year, Cranfill Sumner LLP’s attorneys work diligently to bring the most up-to-date information on North Carolina legal updates… Read More


Steven Bader Discusses Communicable Disease Insurance Coverage

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“Communicable Disease Coverage in the Age of COVID-19,” an article by Steven Bader recently appeared in For the Defense. Steven outlines what communicable disease coverage is intended to cover and the legal issues surrounding it throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  The article appeared in the January 2022 edition.… Read More


Cranfill Sumner Attorneys Volunteer for Legal Aid Eviction Project

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In May 2020, Legal Aid of North Carolina launched an effort to help North Carolinians who were struggling to pay rent and were facing eviction. Legal Aid paired available emergency financial support with a search for volunteer attorneys from across the state who could help negotiate past and future payments with landlords.… Read More