W. Stephen Wilson

Of counsel | San Francisco

Secretary Marissa Lara


Steve is of counsel in the real estate team.

Steve Wilson has 46 years of continuous experience in transactional real estate law.

He also has substantial experience in corporate, general business and non-profit law. He has held the esteemed Martindale-Hubbell “AV” (“preeminent”) peer designation for many years.

In the superheated West Coast real estate environment, he augments his technical knowledge by providing the business judgment and perspective that a seasoned institutional real estate executive would provide. Much of his current professional focus is on complex, value-added urban mixed-use projects and joint ventures, with recent focus on project planning in Qualified Opportunity Zones. Another and longtime focus is assisting nonprofit or charitable organizations (including religious organizations) seeking to monetize their land holdings in a way which incorporates a charitable or public benefit. Steve's clients routinely comment that he is “their other partner”.

Other significant capabilities include real estate tax issues, entity formation/asset management for portfolio owners, restructuring and securitization of holdings, entitlement work, purchases and sales, commercial leasing and title matters. Many clients are offshore investors who benefit greatly from his guidance. In the corporate and general business realm, he has successfully handled numerous mid-market merger and acquisition transactions as well as formation and capitalization advice for many start-up and growth stage companies.

Steve has been an expert witness in two recent, significant jury trials involving real estate issues. In the recent past, he advised a major state-controlled Vietnamese bank in its successful first business venture in the U.S, advised the country's national airline and advised a PRC state-owned real estate investment entity.

Steve has traveled widely on business in Asia, and for 10 years led post-Perestroika humanitarian orphanage support work in the Ryazan region of CIS. His humanitarian endeavors have also included Africa and South America. In 2013, he lectured Chambers of Commerce throughout Indonesia on trade with the US. In 2017, he was a member of the San Francisco Mayor's economic and trade delegation to Vietnam.
Headshot of W. Stephen Wilson

Me in a minute

Life in law for me is generative

Many of my contemporaries have wafted away into retirement (whether restless or happy), volunteer pursuits or unsettled life transitions. Their life in the law is over. Not mine. It's always been more of a calling for me, a vocational commitment that daily draws on every experience I've had and every relationship I've nurtured. Life in law for me is generative. It's daily 360-degree exposure, not just to clients' needs, but also to the healthy and sustainable growth of this firm, the welfare of its members, a bunch of impactful charities and a community that frequently asks my guidance. I get to give back at this stage of life and, in doing so, I assuredly receive more than I could ever imagine.

Even better, I have a remarkable marriage, four awesome adult children, two grandchildren and an imaginative garden. But I digress. Since law is the topic, in recent years I've had the privilege of working with several orders of 'graying' Roman Catholic nuns whose organizations are scheduled to dissolve when the last of them passes. I've walked them through the monetization of their real estate assets in ways that honor their charisma, give back to the community and provide them needed financial resources as they age.

Most notably, I'm approaching the end of a five-year assignment for Sisters of the Holy Family in which we started with 15 acres and an obsolete motherhouse and ended with three 15-bedroom state-of-the-art progressive care residences, a fully-endowed, independently-run 5.5 acre heritage park open to the public and 78 single family homes that paid for it all. The community and the client were thrilled with the result. I was privileged to handle the entire legal end of this for the Sisters, a kind of career tour-de-force including visioning the project, obtaining the entitlements, preparing the purchase and sale agreement and construction contracts and dozens of easements, qualifying the independent owner of the park under IRC Sec. 501 (c) (3) and drawing a highly refined conservation easement. Everybody won here, a result I strive for whenever I can. That's the kind of thing I do.