Steven Bader is the head of appellate practice at Cranfill Sumner LLP. Steven enjoys working with his clients to develop cost-effective solutions to complicated legal problems. His background and experiences allow him to serve his clients in a variety of settings.

Appellate Practice

The majority of Steven’s practice is focused on appellate advocacy. He has the patience and mindset to analyze a lower court record, identify and scrutinize potential errors and procedural questions, and present his client’s position to a higher court. On top of that, Steven is a persuasive writer and polished oral advocate. He has authored briefs, motions, and petitions to the North Carolina Supreme Court, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Steven has handled a wide range of cases on appeal, including questions of statutory interpretation, application of common law principles, questions of governmental immunity, certification of class actions, appeals from the North Carolina Industrial Commission, and review of discretionary trial court rulings.

Steven has appeared and argued multiple times before the North Carolina Supreme Court. For his efforts, Steven was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America®: Ones to Watch in the field of Appellate Practice (2022).

Insurance Coverage

In addition, Steven advises insurance carriers on coverage issues in first and third-party claims. He works with his clients to identify the issues at stake, account for the risk of different approaches, and find a pragmatic solution to insurance coverage questions.

Steven’s insurance coverage work also includes representing carriers in declaratory judgment actions in state and federal court. More recently, Steven has litigated motions to dismiss on behalf of insurers sued for business interruption claims stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting government shut-down orders.

Complex Litigation

At last, Steven maintains an active litigation practice, defending insurers and their insureds in a wide variety of casualty cases, including wrongful death suits, personal injury claims, liquor liability matters, construction defect litigation, and professional liability lawsuits.

Steven is a detail-oriented advocate who never loses sight of 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 in the form of settlement, through motion practice, or at trial.

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Prior to joining Cranfill Sumner in 2019, Steven partnered at a mid-sized insurance defense firm in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His practice centered on general tort litigation, insurance coverage, and appellate advocacy. 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 Rising Star by Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2019.

Steven is an active member of the Defense Research Institute. His articles have been published in For the Defense (monthly publication of DRI), Minnesota Defense, and Bench and Bar of Minnesota. Steven maintains an AV Preeminent Rating with Martindale Hubbell.

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 served as a judicial law clerk in Minnesota District Court. Steven graduated magna cum laude from Saint Cloud State University and was a captain of the men’s track and field team.

Steven and his wife, who is also an attorney in Raleigh, are parents to two young boys. When not practicing law or chasing his children (or dogs), Steven enjoys running, reading, history, skiing, watching sports, and cooking.


  • “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.

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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