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Steven Mayer focuses his practice on constitutional litigation and representing public entities.

Steve was President of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers in 2014-15 and has been a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers since 2009. He is also a member of the American Law Institute.

In 1974, Steve served as Staff Attorney at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 1975, he became the Assistant Supervising Staff Attorney, a position he held until he joined Howard Rice in November, 1975. He became a partner at Howard Rice in 1980, and practiced at that firm until it combined with Arnold & Porter in 2012. He then practiced as a partner at Arnold & Porter until 2014, when he became a Senior Counsel.

Steve is currently listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the field of Appellate Law. He has been recognized by Northern California Super Lawyer for nearly two decades.


  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America v. Center for Medical Progress, 51 F.4th 1125 (9th Cir. 2022) (wrote and/or edited 215-page brief that secured affirmance of almost all of US$2.4M damage award against anti-abortion activists who invaded Planned Parenthood's conferences and clinics).
  •, Inc. v. AOL Advertising, Inc., 616 F.3d 974 (9th Cir. 2010) (reversed preliminary injunction enjoining use of trademark on ground that mark was generic and therefore unprotected).
  • City of Los Angeles v. County of Kern, 581 F.3d 841 (9th Cir. 2009) (in-state plaintiffs had no prudential standing to challenge county ordinance under Commerce Clause).
  • Berry v. County of Sonoma, 30 F.3d 1174 (9th Cir. 1994) (County did not violate FLSA in refusing to pay overtime to on-call employees).
  • Weatherford v. City of San Rafael, 2 Cal. 5th 1241 (2017) (filed amici brief and presented oral argument on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the AARP, among others, successfully arguing for a less stringent interpretation of California's taxpayer standing statute).
  • City of Los Angeles v. County of Kern, 59 Cal. 4th 618 (2014) (obtained unanimous decision upholding minority interpretation of federal statute governing the refilling in state court of claims dismissed without prejudice by federal court).
  • Hernandez v. City of Hanford, 41 Cal. 4th 279 (2007) (successful defense of municipal zoning ordinance against Equal Protection challenge).
  • County of Riverside v. Superior Court, 30 Cal. 4th 278 (2003) (successfully challenged binding arbitration statute in California Supreme Court).
  • Hill v. NCAA, 7 Cal. 4th 1 (1994) (challenged drug testing program on behalf of Stanford University in California Supreme Court).
  • Hansen v. City of San Buenaventura, 42 Cal. 3d 1172 (1986) (successfully defended a municipality's right to profit from utility sales to non-residents).
  • ITT World Communications v. City and County of San Francisco, 37 Cal. 3d 859 (1985) (successfully contended that Proposition 13 does not apply to public utility property).
  • Shaw v. Superior Court, 78 Cal. App. 5th 245 (2022) (secured holding that trial courts have discretion to stay lawsuits invoking Private Attorney General Act to avoid duplicative litigation).
  • Hitz v. Hoekstra, No. E062777, 2017 WL 1366066 (Cal. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Div. 2, Apr. 13, 2017) (successfully defended trial court order modifying trust instrument to permit Deep Springs College to become coeducational notwithstanding the provision in the trust instrument describing trust purpose as the education of "promising young men")..
  • Campaign for Quality Education v. State, 246 Cal. App. 4th 896 (2016) (unsuccessful attempt to enforce provisions of California Constitution requiring the state to provide a constitutionally adequate education) (three Justices of the California Supreme Court voted to grant review).
  • Chevron USA v. County of Kern, 230 Cal. App. 4th 1315 (2014) (obtained reversal of decision invalidating county's method of assessing new oil wells).
  • Sims v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 216 Cal. App. 4th 1059 (2013) (successfully invalidated regulations adopted to implement capital punishment, established standards for determining what constitutes compliance with rule-making requirements of state Administrative Procedures Act, and obtained holding that Act requires judicial review for fiscal impact and clarity).
  • Totten v. Board of Supervisors, 139 Cal. App. 4th 826 (2006) (successfully contended that initiative setting county budgetary priorities was unconstitutional).
  • Maples v. Kern County Assessment Appeals Board, 103 Cal. App. 4th 172 (2002) (successfully challenged multimillion dollar reduction in value of oil field).
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association v. City of Riverside, 73 Cal. App. 4th 679 (1999) (successfully defeated challenge under Proposition 218 to municipal street light assessment).
  • Schabarum v. California Legislature, 60 Cal. App. 4th 1205 (1998) (successfully represented Legislative Counsel in litigation challenging legality of its appropriations).
  • Kern County Farm Bureau v. County of Kern, 19 Cal. App. 4th 1416 (1993) (successfully defended assessment against challenge based on Proposition 13).
  • City of Westminster v. County of Orange, 204 Cal. App. 3d 623 (1988) (successfully challenged initiative provision requiring referenda on tax increases).
  • Rhee v. El Camino Hospital District, 201 Cal. App. 3d 477 (1988) (successfully defended hospital in challenge to denial of surgical privileges).
  • Kahn v. Superior Court, 188 Cal. App. 3d 752 (1987) (established privilege for confidential academic peer review communications).
  • San Bernardino Community Hospital v. Meeks, 185 Cal. App. 3d 457 (1986) (successfully defended client and attorney against motion for US$4 million in sanctions).
  • Wynn v. Chanos, 685 F. App'x 578 (2017) (successfully defended trial court order dismissing libel suit brought by Stephen Wynn and his company).


Chambers USA
Litigation: Appellate (CA) (2014-2024)
Northern California Super Lawyers
Best Lawyers
Appellate Practice (SF) (2011-2024)
Bet-the-Company Litigation (SF) (2023-2024)
"Lawyer of the Year" Appellate Practice (SF) (2012, 2018, 2024)



  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, 1974, Order of the Coif
  • Yale Law School, 1972
  • B.A., Oberlin College, 1970, summa cum laude, with highest honors


  • California


  • Member, The American Law Institute
  • President, California Academy of Appellate Lawyers (CAAL) (2014-2015)
  • Member, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers (2009-Present)
  • Member, Legal Committee, ACLU of Northern California
  • Member, Committee on Appellate Courts, State Bar of California (1996-1997)