With a background in government and political science, Silver & Wright Attorney Scott Kalter has brought a passion for public policy and experience in general and commercial liability defense to the Silver & Wright team since he joined the firm in early 2019. Since then, he’s become a go-to resource for public agency clients who have exhausted other resources and require legal assistance in addressing dangerous code enforcement violations. His efforts help public agencies enforce local municipal codes, address safety hazards, and hold criminal violators responsible. Put simply, Scott’s efforts play a big role in keeping City streets and structures clean, safe, and maintained for all.
On the heels of a significant victory in the City of Upland, Scott talks to us about how he got here, why his practice is important to him, and what he hopes to tackle in the future.
Q: What’s your background?
A: I would say my background is largely in government and political science. My undergraduate degree is in Politics from the University of San Francisco. My senior year of college I received a full scholarship from the Panetta Institute to live and work on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., where I interned in the office of Congressman Howard Berman (who was the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee). When I returned, I interned in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office in their consumer protection department before attending law school at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
Q: How did you become interested and involved in the code enforcement side of law?
A: Prior to joining Silver & Wright LLP I met an attorney who worked for the firm who is also now a good friend. We both are active members of the Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. Due to my background in government and interest in public agency work, she thought I would enjoy working with Silver & Wright LLP. She facilitated an introduction into the firm and the firm is how I was introduced to code enforcement.
Q: Why is criminal code enforcement work so important?
A: Prior to joining Silver and Wright LLP I just assumed members of the community largely kept up their homes or commercial properties and actively kept them free of dangerous fire hazards and vermin infestations. I now am intimately aware that the beautiful neighborhoods throughout California are in large part due to the work of code enforcement holding bad actors accountable. Code enforcement also ensures that basic standards of habitability are maintained for renters. This is very important considering a large number of Californians are renters. Code enforcement ensures that neighbors/tenants do not become the permanent victims of negligent property owners.
Q: What is special or unique about your practice area?
A: There are very specific statutory requirements and notice requirements that local governments must follow in order to properly and successfully enforce state housing laws. In that respect, our practice area is unique because it requires a mastery and understanding of these procedures in order to be efficient and enforce the law as intended by the legislature, who are elected by the people.
Q: You had a recent win in the City of Upland – Can you tell us why that case was impactful?
A: Yes – our firm, in partnering with the Upland Police Department, was successful in closing down a massage parlor that harbored prostitution. Local law prohibits prostitution and for that reason alone, the City cannot allow the business to operate. However, this case and many others like it, are impactful because many women who are “hired” by these businesses have been victims of sex trafficking. These operations to investigate and shut down illegal prostitution businesses fight back against sex trafficking. It also gives the victims an out, should they want it.
Q: What’s your 30-second elevator pitch for a prospective client?
A: Silver and Wright LLP is a boutique law firm made up of attorneys who are trying to do right by the law and by the community. We care about integrity, justice, and solving problems for local enforcement agencies that are also trying to keep their communities vibrant, safe, and healthy. Our goal is to support local law enforcement and local government in realizing their goals.
Q: Are there any particular issues you’d like to tackle with your work in the future?
A: I would like to work on reducing and even some day ending homelessness in California. It is a complex societal issue and local governments and local law enforcement need better tools to better assist homeless individuals.
Q: Are you involved in any associations or professional organizations?
A: I am a member of the Orange County Bar Association and the Young Lawyers Division. I very much enjoy networking with other legal professionals and sharing best practices so I can improve my own lawyering skills.
Q: How do you feel Silver & Wright is making a difference for municipalities and in the communities it serves?
A: I often joke with my clients that once a case reaches us, you know it’s bad. I think we make a big difference because we offer lasting solutions to problems that have been a chronic drain on municipal resources. Often our clients come to us because they have tried everything in their toolbox and now they need court intervention. That is where we come in. Our goal is to put a stop to chronic problems that negatively affect our clients’ communities.