Steve  Ngo

Partner | Walnut Creek

Attorney Insights
Tel: 925.953.1620
Fax: 925.953.1625
Vcard   | Bio


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. He advises cities, school districts, and community colleges, while active in several of the firm’s practice groups, including Litigation, Technology & Innovation, Public Finance, Municipal, 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

In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Mr. Ngo to the California Student Aid Commission, the nation’s largest administrator of state financial aid. Mr. Ngo also serves on the Board of Governors for the University of California, Hastings College of the Law Alumni Association. He is 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.

Student Newspaper Sues University After All Print Media Is Defunded Following The Publication Of A Satirical Article

By: Steve NgoStephanie WhiteBrittaney Contreras-

January 2020Number 4A University of California San Diego (UCSD) student newspaper, The Koala, brought suit against UCSD officials alleging that they defunded all print media in violation of the First Amendment. In The Koala v. Khosla (9th Cir. 2019) 931 F.3d 887, the Ninth Circuit sided with the student newspaper, reversing in part and vacating in part a district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that the Eleventh Amendment did not bar The Koala's claims, and allowing the case to pr...

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...

  • 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.