Our Professional Team

Steven E. Ernest, Esq.


Areas of Practice


Bar Admissions



J.D., University of Miami School of Law, cum laude
B.A., The American University

Steven E. Ernest, Esq.


Mr. Ernest received his undergraduate degree from The American University in 1993 and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law (cum laude) in 1996. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1996 and is a member of the Bars of the Central, Southern, Northern and Eastern Districts of California.

He has an extensive transactional and litigation background, having filed and brought thousands of commercial cases to judgment. His focus has been for clients in the financial sector, successfully defending the world’s most prestigious luxury automaker in anti-trust, warranty, and fraud cases. As regional counsel to nationwide lenders, he has written their credit, purchase, and other transactional documentation, as well as export compliance, FCPA, and other regulatory compliance. As outside general counsel to several clients, he has navigated their employment, corporate, and real estate needs.

Associations & Memberships

  • Moderator of the Permanent Judicial Council, Presbytery of Los Ranchos (2018-present)
  • Trustee – Presbytery of Los Ranchos (2014-2017), Moderator (2017)
  • President, CEO and Chairman for the Finance Committee of San Clemente Presbyterian Church (2014-2015)
  • Director, Judge Advocate – Dana West Youth Sailing, Inc. (2006-2019)
  • Judge Advocate – Dana West Yacht Club (2002-2012)
  • President – PHRF of SoCal (2012), Judge Advocate (2006-2010), VP (2011)
  • Secretary – Beneteau First 36.7 of North America (2004 – 2009)
  • Judicial Extern to Honorable James N. Barr (US Bankruptcy Court – 1995)
  • Legislative Assistant to Congressman Edward R. Royce (1993)


  • Extensive first chair, lead trial, arbitration and mediation experience.
  • Specializes in the areas of commercial litigation, secured transactions and insolvency.
  • Represents clients in litigation involving secured transactions including recovery of collateral and compelling performance of contractual obligations.
  • Manages a large portfolio of cases defending and prosecuting contract actions for national financial institutions.
  • Extensive courtroom experience representing lenders in breach of warranty, Credit Reporting Act (both state and federal), and collection practices litigation.
  • Experience obtaining prejudgment remedies such as writs of possession, as well as in pursuing collection remedies before filing a lawsuit and after obtaining judgment.
  • Experience enforcing creditors' rights in California including handling over 7,000 replevin cases.
  • Serves as arbitrator and mediator in secured transaction cases.
  • Defends trademark infringement claims in federal court (first chair).
  • Defends landowners in premises liability actions.
  • Extensive drafting experience in the area of commercial and consumer finance including loan and security agreements, promissory notes, inter-creditor, settlement and work-out agreements.  Also standard corporate agreements including confidentiality agreements, consulting agreements and employment agreements.
  • Provided seminars to Mercedes-Benz Financial, AmeriCredit Financial Services, Chrysler Financial and Ford Motor Credit regarding collection practices, storage liens, reinstatement rights, Rees-Levering, Vehicle Leasing Act, insurance, Quartz, replevin, and bankruptcy.
  • Successfully managed and supervised team of partners and associates conducting due diligence related to the breakup of a major automaker which involved thousands of contracts and an incredibly tight turnaround time.  Project was completed on budget and ahead of deadline.
  • Conducts perfection of security audits for multiple creditors of their nationwide portfolios to ensure perfection of their security interests in floored inventory.

Authored Articles

Navigating the Highs and Lows of Financing in the Cannabis Industry in California
Navigating the Maze: Understanding Service of Lawsuits in California
The Economy Is Risky, But the Rewards Are Waiting for You
Where Are We Headed? Geraci Leadership Is Looking Forward to 2024
Careful There, Love: Protecting Private Lenders from Rampant Mortgage Fraud
Unmasking Deception: The Intricate Web of Fraud in Private Lending
Securing Interests: Navigating the Intricacies of Assignment of Rents in California Real Estate
How to Keep Yourself Out of Court (and Away From Me)
5 Tips to Limit Lender Liability
Understanding Lender Liability: Avoid California’s 10-Year Liability for Construction Defects in Fix and Flip Properties
Legal Ramifications of Cannabis Lending
Collections FAQs
Post-Tenancy Eviction Process
Residential Eviction Process
Giving a Tenant Notice: What You Need to Know
Your Customer Filed for Bankruptcy—What Now?
The "New Normal" Approaches to Litigation
The Replevin Remedy
Honchariw v. FJM Private Mortgage Fund: Fundamental Shift to Default Interest in California with National Implications
Borrower Filing Bankruptcy? Here’s What Secured Lenders Should Know
Deficiency Judgments: How To Get Paid
Force Majeure in the Context of COVID-19
Understanding the Temporary Impacts of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021
A Personal Guaranty Contract Can Help Lenders Recover Even After Foreclosure
Breaking Down Breach of Fiduciary Duty & Fraud in a Securities Context

Hosted Webinars

Fraud – Tactics to Avoid Being a Victim, and How to Overcome It
Guaranties: Selecting, Creating, and Enforcing - What Every Lender Should Know
Borrower Defaults - How to Build a Winning Litigation Strategy in 2023
Options After Default: California Foreclosure, Default Interest, Loss Mitigation, and Recourse
Contact Steven E. Ernest, Esq.
We represent financial institutions and real estate professionals.
Unfortunately, we do not represent consumers.