Justin E. Sterling

Mr. Sterling is a top-rated criminal trial lawyer whose cases have included everything from DUI, to murder, to civil rights lawsuits against the police. Regarded as one of the most skilled criminal defense practitioners in his field, Mr. Sterling’s approach to the practice of law is one of honesty, compassion, and integrity.

Mr. Sterling has dedicated himself to defense work since the inception of his legal career. Mr. Sterling immersed himself in the field of criminal law over fifteen years ago when he worked for a Northern California legal aid clinic. In this capacity, he represented indigent clients accused of a variety of offenses.

Mr. Sterling’s commitment to social justice eventually led him to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office where he assisted lead counsel in defending clients charged with misdemeanors and serious felonies. During his time at the office, Mr. Sterling received numerous accolades which included Outstanding Achievement in Public Service and Excellence in Oral Advocacy. The latter was an award Mr. Sterling received from members of California’s 9th Circuit Appellate Court.

Life circumstances eventually brought Mr. Sterling back to the city where he was born and raised – Los Angeles. He gained extensive insight into local practice when he worked for two prominent Los Angeles defense firms. During this time, he assisted in high-profile criminal cases as well as consulted on complex legal issues for a prominent Los Angeles law firm.

Despite being offered a position at one of the most prestigious national law firms, Mr. Sterling returned to his passion for public service and took a job as a trial attorney with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. He brought something different to the Public Defender’s Office. In addition to providing his clients with committed and passionate representation, Mr. Sterling quickly established a reputation within the Los Angeles legal community as being a talented trial lawyer. His devotion to his clients resulted in him receiving extensive peer recognition and honors while honing his craft in the courtroom.

In 2008, Mr. Sterling was honored to be the recipient of the Charles Gessler Award for Excellence in Misdemeanor Practice. Named after the nationally renowned death-penalty lawyer, the achievement recognized Mr. Sterling’s prowess as a fierce trial lawyer. He experienced rapid promotion within the office and after 18 months began his felony practice. During this period, he represented clients accused of only the most serious of crimes. These cases included murder, attempted murder, rape, major narcotic crimes, felony DUI, child molestation, residential and commercial burglary, in addition to major fraud litigation.

After years of trial work within the public sector, Mr. Sterling returned to private practice and founded the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling in order to bring high-end representation to individuals and businesses facing criminal prosecution. Mr. Sterling’s goal of providing focused and aggressive advocacy is highlighted by his willingness to take on some of the toughest cases. The framework for Mr. Sterling’s success is that he is a trial lawyer first and foremost, not a businessman.

Mr. Sterling’s trial statistics attest to his skill in jury selection, cross-examination, and summation – he has tried over 60 jury trials to verdict in courts throughout California.

Mr. Sterling understands which situations require aggressive tactics and which are best approached with diplomacy and finesse. Whether it’s arguing a case to a jury or resolving a client’s case quickly and discreetly, Mr. Sterling’s approach to criminal practice is highlighted by his ability to effectively problem solve. Being a native Angeleno, Mr. Sterling is also well-connected within the Los Angeles community. He is respected by judges, prosecutors, and his peers alike for his trial skills and professionalism.

Mr. Sterling continues to receive the highest honors in the areas of legal ability, experience, industry recognition, and professional conduct. In 2013, Mr. Sterling was named in the “Who’s Who” Registry of Legal Professionals. Who’s Who has become one of the most trusted publishers in the country, spotlighting a select percentage of industry leaders. Mr. Sterling is also an AVVO-rated lawyer, receiving top marks from clients and attorneys. He has been named a Top Criminal Defense Attorney, Under the Age of 40, by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys as well as a Top Lawyer in California, by the Legal Network, noting his commitment to ethical standards and professional excellence.

Ventura Blvd. Magazine, one of the finest regional lifestyle publications, named Mr. Sterling a trusted advisor within the San Fernando Valley, profiling his local expertise within the Valley community. By combining in-depth criminal trial experience with local expertise, Mr. Sterling continues to be one of the most sought-after advisors in criminal law.

In addition to managing a thriving practice, Mr. Sterling is actively involved with many community outreach projects and charitable organizations. He resides in Los Angeles with his family.


Top Lawyers – California – The Legal Network 2013, 2014

Top Lawyers  is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 50 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Top Lawyers is by invitation only.  Mr. Sterling was named a Top Lawyer in 2013 and 2014 noting his dedication to his clients as well as maintaining outstanding legal excellence.

The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers – 2014

The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers is a professional organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from across the country who exemplify superior qualifications as civil plaintiff or criminal defense trial lawyers. This national organization provides advocacy training and the highest quality educational programs for trial lawyers. Mr. Sterling received this honor is 2014.

The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys – Top 40 Under 40

The NACDA’s Top 40 Under 40 is a professional organization comprised of America’s top young trial attorneys.  Membership into the Top 40 Under 40 is by invitation only, and is extended exclusively to those individuals who meet stringent qualifications and specialize in the legal practice of criminal defense. Mr. Sterling was named a Top 40 Under 40 criminal defense attorney in 2013 and 2014 by the NACDA.

Edward Bronson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Service – 2002

Edward Bronson, a professor emeritus and Fulbright Scholar, is responsible for bringing legal services to the poor within Northern California communities. Bronson is also a nationally recognized expert on change-of-venue and jury selection cases. This award was established in his name to honor a lifetime dedicated to public service.

Mr. Sterling was awarded this honor for his devotion to indigent defense and in recognition of his contributions to legal aid representation.

Excellence in Oral Advocacy – 2006

Mr. Sterling was honored to be the recipient of this award in 2006. His skills relating to oral persuasion and advocacy were recognized when members of California’s Appellate Court – 9th Circuit, bestowed this very distinct honor to him.

Charles Gessler Trial Attorney of the Year Award: Distinction in Misdemeanor Practice – 2008

Charles Gessler is the cornerstone of capital defense practice. Known as the “dean of the capital case” in California, Charles Gessler has dedicated his professional career to legal advocacy on behalf of people accused of crimes.

His clients have included some high-profile defendants – Vaughn C. Greenwood, the so-called “Skid Row Slasher”, Sam Nam Chinh, charged in a highly publicized 1984 Chinatown murder-robbery case and convicted of killing a police officer; and Lyle Menendez in his second trial for the shotgun killing of his parents. Mr. Gessler is a champion of the belief that criminal defense attorneys represent whole people, not just cases.

This honor was given to Mr. Sterling by the Public Defender’s Association of Los Angeles County. The award recognized Mr. Sterling’s tenacity as a trial lawyer, highlighting the remarkable results he obtained for his clients through plea negotiations and jury verdicts.