Steve  Ngo

Partner | Walnut Creek

Attorney Insights
Tel: 925.953.1620
Fax: 925.953.1625
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Steve Ngo is a litigator in Lozano Smith’s Walnut Creek office. He has extensive experience representing local governments across the state, covering an array of complex legal disputes. In addition to co-chairing the firm’s Community College practice, he is active in several other practice groups, including Litigation, Technology & Innovation, Public Finance, Local Government/Special Districts, and Labor & Employment.

Mr. Ngo is an adept advocate with a record of successfully navigating public agencies and organizations through novel and formidable litigation from inception through appeal. This record has included advice on significant financial disputes; prosecution of disciplinary charges against employees for sexual offenses and sexual harassment; litigation of claims for writ of mandate, administrative mandamus, or injunctive relief; and defense of claims for money damages against local governments. He is also one of the firm’s experts in Public Records Act litigation.

Presenter Experience

Mr. Ngo has presented on the Brown Act, effective business practices, open government policies, and labor and employment issues before the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA), California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO), the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA), the Alameda County Office of Education, and Santa Clara County Office of Education.


Mr. Ngo earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where he was elected president of the Associated Students. In law school he clerked for the California Attorney General’s Energy Task Force, which investigated conduct by power generators and traders. He earned a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, Los Angeles. After college, he received the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship, serving as staff to the State Assembly Budget Committee. Mr. Ngo has received certification through ATIXA as a participant in Level 1 and Level 3 ATIXA Civil Rights Investigator Trainings.

Community Service

Mr. Ngo serves on the Board of Governors for the University of California, Hastings College of the Law Alumni Association. Mr. Ngo is also a member of the Asian American Bar Association of the Bay Area and an active supporter of the Asian Women's Shelter.

Mr. Ngo received the Next Generation Champion Award from Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth and the Policy Innovation Award from the San Francisco Family Support Network for his leadership on the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Community College District.

Lawmakers Approve Overhaul of Community College District Funding System

By: Darren KameyaSteve Ngo-

August 2018Number 42State lawmakers have approved an overhaul of the funding system for California's community colleges. The new Student-Focused Funding Formula for general purpose apportionments will be phased in over three school years, starting in 2018-19. The formula aims to equalize access and improve outcomes for community college students by tying a portion of annual funding to student equity and success.The formula was included in a budget trailer bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 1809, which ...

Discovery of Public Records after Requester Filed Lawsuit Leads to Attorney Fee Award for Plaintiff

By: Manuel MartinezSteve Ngo-

September 2017 Number 51 A California appeals court has found a city liable for attorney's fees after determining that a related lawsuit prompted the city to produce records during the litigation that the plaintiff had first sought through a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request. In Sukumar v. City of San Diego, the Court of Appeal held that the City of San Diego, although acting in good faith and having ultimately disclosed all records responsive to a CPRA request, had to pay a...

Court Reaffirms Undocumented Students' Eligibility for Higher Education Aid Programs

By: Michelle CannonSteve Ngo-

February 2017 Number 6 The Second District Court of Appeal has rejected arguments that sought to bar the University of California (UC) from making certain financial aid programs available to undocumented students. In decidingDe Vries v. Regents of University of California (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 574, the appellate court has reaffirmed undocumented students' eligibility for such programs. As some colleges express concern about the potential for federal policies that could impact their undocumen...

Federal Appeals Court Affirms Constitutionality of Student Conduct Code, but Allows Free Speech Retaliation Claim against University to Proceed

By: Trevin SimsSteve Ngo-

October 2016 Number 81 The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a university's request to dismiss a student's lawsuit alleging retaliation for protected speech under the First Amendment. In O'Brien v. Welty (9th Cir. 2016) 818 F.3d 920, a student intruded into the university offices of two faculty members, questioned the faculty members about a poem published in the student newspaper and proceeded to video record the interactions. The university disciplined the student under its stude...

  • In M.N. v. Morgan Hill Unified School District (2018) 20 Cal.App.5th 607, Mr. Ngo successfully defeated a petition for writ of administrative mandate, which sought to reverse an expulsion of a student who repeatedly sexually assaulted a classmate, and later prevailed on appeal, obtaining the first published appellate opinion to clarify the evidentiary rules and standard of review for expulsion proceedings. The M.N. opinion specifically rejected the notion that sexual battery must be proven by direct evidence of the state of mind of the accused.
  • In Newark Unified School District v. Superior Court (2015) 245 Cal.App.4th 887, Mr. Ngo successfully obtained appellate writ relief in an opinion where the Court of Appeal held that a public entity may seek the return of and “claw back” documents protected by the attorney-client privilege that are inadvertently disclosed in a response to a Public Records Act request, establishing new precedent on this issue of first impression. After the appellate court proceedings, Mr. Ngo prevailed at trial, obtaining a permanent injunction on behalf of the client district.
  • In Foster v. City of Berkeley, et al. (N.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2011) Case No. C 10-3703 SI, 2011 WL 5861266, Mr. Ngo successfully defended a non-profit media organization against unconventional tort and civil rights theories, winning summary judgment and costs against the plaintiff.
  • Successfully resolved litigation for school district, which alleged that a county failed to properly collect and disburse developer fees to fund construction of public school facilities.
  • Successfully resolved audit finding before Education Audit Appeals Panel, saving school district client nearly one million in general fund exposure.