Steve  Ngo

Senior Counsel | Walnut Creek

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Tel: 925.953.1620
Fax: 925.953.1625
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Steve Ngo is Senior Counsel in Lozano Smith's Walnut Creek office and co-chair of the firm's Community College practice area. He is also a member of the firm's Labor & Employment, Litigation, and Public Finance practice groups.

He is a skilled litigator with experience successfully navigating public agencies and organizations through a range of complex litigation and administrative matters, providing legal strategy and advocacy from inception through appeal. In a recent case, Mr. Ngo obtained a restraining order from a trial court and eventually a writ of mandate from the Court of Appeal for a client seeking the return of privileged attorney-client documents mistakenly released in response to a Public Records Act request, setting new legal precedent in Newark Unified School Dist. v. Superior Court (2015) 245 Cal.App.4th 887. Later affirmed by the Supreme Court, he briefed the school district's case in Newark, the first appellate decision to hold a public agency did not waive the privilege under such circumstances. Mr. Ngo was lead counsel for multiple districts in Cal200 v. San Francisco Unified School District, et al. (San Francisco Superior Court) related to physical education instruction, as well as a school district defendant in Doe 1, et al. v. State of California, et al. (Sacramento Superior Court), which challenged its English curriculum, advancing effective resolution of these novel matters for his clients. In Foster v. City of Berkeley, et al. (N.D. Cal.), he won summary judgment for a non-profit media organization wrongly accused of federal and state civil rights violations and intentional torts. Representing school districts, Mr. Ngo has also prosecuted disciplinary charges against employees for sexual offenses, sexual harassment, theft, and misuse of public resources.

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.

Community Service

Mr. Ngo is a member of the Asian American Bar Association of the Bay Area, and previously co-chaired its Civil Rights Committee. He is also 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.

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

By: Manuel MartinezSteve NgoJerrad Mills-

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...

California Supreme Court Holds Attorney-Client Privilege Not Waived by Public Agency's Accidental Disclosure of Privileged Communications in Response to a Public Records Act Request

By: Sloan SimmonsSteve Ngo-

March 2016 Number 14 If a public agency accidentally discloses privileged attorney-client information when it responds to a Public Records Act request, does the agency waive the attorney-client privilege? The answer is no, according to a California Supreme Court ruling issued today, March 17, 2016. The decision significantly impacts how public agencies throughout the state handle Public Records Act requests. In Ardon v. City of Los Angeles, the California Supreme Court resolved conflic...

Fit to Defend: A Primer on the Physical Education Instructional Minutes Litigation

By: Sloan SimmonsSteve NgoAnne Collins-

A series of lawsuits against school districts throughout California caught the attention of the State Legislature in 2015, prompting changes in the law designed to keep administrators and teachers out of the courthouse regarding physical education ("P.E.") instructional minutes ("P.E. minutes"). The law, AB 1391, was an urgency measure that took effect as soon as Governor Brown signed the legislation in October 2015. Despite AB 1391, it appears that there are still attorneys and members of th...

California Court of Appeal Holds Attorney-Client Privilege Not Waived by Public Agency's Accidental Disclosure of Privileged Communications in Response to a Public Records Act Request

By: Sloan SimmonsSteve Ngo-

August 2015 Number 42 In a decision impacting public agencies across the state, the California Court of Appeal held that a school district did not waive its attorney-client privilege when it accidentally revealed attorney-client communications in response to a request under the Public Records Act. In Newark Unified School District v. Superior Court (July 31, 2015) 2015 Cal.App.Lexis 671 (Newark), the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court, which previously ruled that the school district...

Court Ruling Requires Greater Scrutiny of Language Census Reporting by Districts

By: Thomas MannielloSteve Ngo-

October 2014 Number 73 A court recently held that a school district's report of its Language Census data is subject to greater scrutiny if the report shows that English Learners have not received appropriate instructional services. In D.J. et al. v. State of California, et al. (Super. Ct. L.A. County, September 16, 2014, No. BS142775), the plaintiffs alleged that the State violated the California Constitution's Equal Protection clause and the federal Equal Educational Opportunities Act...

New Law Clarifies the Process for Filling Student Trustee Vacancies on Community College Governing Boards

By: Steve Ngo-

October 2013 Number 72 Community college district governing boards are required to be composed of one or more non-voting students who are chosen by the student body pursuant to governing board policy. Assembly Bill (AB) 1030 provides that if a student board member's seat becomes vacant during his or her term, the governing board may authorize the officers of the student body associations at each college in the district to appoint a student to serve the remainder of the term in accordance...

Violence Against Women Act Calls for New Policies on Campus

By: Trevin SimsSteve Ngo-

March 2013 Number 12 On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which provides sweeping changes to key aspects of college and university disclosure and reporting mandates. Section 304 of the law, titled "Campus Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Education and Prevention," made significant revisions to the Clery Act provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965, requiring, among other things: ...

Without Evidence Of Discriminatory Bias, Employer's Business Reason For Termination Upheld

By: Mark KitabayashiSteve Ngo-

December 2012 Number 77 In Batarse v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000 (2012) 209 Cal.App.4th 820, the court addressed whether an employee's offered evidence of retaliatory conduct was sufficient to overcome the employer's business reasons for termination in a suit alleging racial discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The court of appeal ruled in favor of the employer and held that without evidence of discriminatory motive, the case d...

New Bill Expands Paid Leave for Represented Classified Employees

By: Darren KameyaSteve Ngo-

October 2012 Number 51 More classified employees at school and community college districts may take paid time off to carry out union activities under Assembly Bill 1203, recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Taking effect on January 1, 2013, AB 1203 amends Education Code section 45210 (for school districts) and section 88210 (for community college districts) by allowing a classified union to request paid leave time for a reasonable number of unelected classified employees to attend ...