Our Team

Expert, passionate and dedicated

Steven Kay

Steven Kay is the founding member of San Francisco based law firm, Kay & Merkle, LLP, an eight member firm specializing in real estate and business transactions, and estate planning.  Mr. Kay has been representing and advising clients in real estate, business transactions and sports matters for over four decades.  Mr. Kay shares office space with former Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. since Mr. Brown’s exit from public life in 2004, and together they represent clients in San Francisco and throughout the State of California in a myriad of matters including gaming and transportation.

Mr. Kay represented the San Francisco 49ers football team for the period from 1990 through 2007.  In addition to contractual, leasing matters, and general 49ers team representation, Mr. Kay represented Hall of Fame athlete Reggie Jackson for the entire term of his baseball career, as well as Super Bowl Champion coaches Bill Walsh (Hall of Fame), George Seifert and Mike Shanahan. Mr. Kay has represented the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation, Edward J. DeBartolo individually, and the Oakland Invaders of the United States Football League.

Mr. Kay is engaged in representing entrepreneurs, developers and numerous entities involved in creating, developing and owning improved and unimproved real property.  Mr. Kay currently represents Lennar Urban and Five Point Holdings, LLC in their participation in the Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point developments in San Francisco.  Such representation has included acquisition, obtaining entitlements and permits, participating in public hearings and appeals, financing, insurance and operational matters including leases, joint venture agreements, subordination, nondisturbance and estoppel agreements.

Mr. Kay represented the New York Stock Exchange listed Mills Corporation real estate trust in development activities throughout northern California.  Such representation included onsite responsibility for all real estate matters involving the creation and potential development of the projects, including with reference to San Francisco, hearings and appeals, and issuance of San Francisco Port approval, negotiation and hearings with the State Lands Commission and the Waterfront Advisory Board, San Francisco Port Commission, and San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Kay has invested in many start-up/private equity ventures and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Learner Financial Corporation, owner of Scott Valley Bank in California.

Mr. Kay represents a wide range of entities in all stages of business life from inception through sale, including structuring, acquisition, financing, development, sale and disposition.  His practice also includes representation of wineries, hospital organizations, insurance brokerages, and representation of renowned chefs and restaurant owners in the acquisition, development and operations of restaurant properties.

Mr. Kay serves as President and majority owner of Golden Gate Global, the leading EB-5 Immigration Investment Regional Center in Northern California.  Golden Gate Global is licensed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to help facilitate EB-5 immigrant investment into high-economic impact projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.

Mr. Kay obtained his A.B. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1963 and his LL.B. from USF School of Law in 1966 with admission to the California Bar in 1966.  Mr. Kay has been a guest lecturer for the Practicing Law Institute (PLI), has been involved in many charitable organizations, and is a member of the Bar Association of San Francisco, California State Bar Association, and American Bar Association.

Walter F. Merkle

Walter F. Merkle is a founding member and name partner in the San Francisco law firm of Kay & Merkle, LLP, which was established in 1973.  Mr. Merkle has represented clients in connection with a wide variety of transactions, with an emphasis on real estate transactions and related matters.  Mr. Merkle has extensive experience in the acquisition, sale, financing and leasing of commercial real properties.  In connection with many transactional matters, Mr. Merkle has formed and structured business entities, including limited partnerships and limited liability companies.  In addition, Mr. Merkle has significant experience representing family offices, which experience includes the formation and structuring of various investment entities.

Representative matters in which Mr. Merkle has been involved, include the following:

  • Representation of a group of entities involved in the acquisition, sale, financing and leasing of in excess of 6,000,000 square feet of commercial real properties in the Silicon Valley;
  • Representation of a seller in connection with the sale of a shopping center having in excess of 1,000,000 square feet for a sale price in excess $100,000,000;
  • Representation of a developer involved in the acquisition, development and sale of commercial properties including condominiums in the South of Market, San Francisco area;
  • Representation of a family office holding assets in excess of $1,000,000,000 in connection with acquisitions held for investment;
  • Representation of an entity owning real property in connection with the preparation and negotiation of a lease providing for rents for the term of the lease in excess of $30,000,000; and
  • Representation of a closely held corporation in connection with the negotiation and documentation of portfolio financing of commercial real properties in an amount in excess of $200,000,000.

Mr. Merkle is a graduate of University of California at Davis, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of San Francisco, and a LLM in Taxation from New York University.  Mr. Merkle is a member of the California Bar Association.

W. Bruce Bercovich

Bruce Bercovich, a partner of Kay & Merkle, LLP, specializes in a variety of commercial transactions and maintains subspecialties in real estate leasing and sales transactions and in matters relating to the retail automotive industry.

Since 1976, Mr. Bercovich has been involved in hundreds of separate transaction buying and selling new vehicle (automobiles, motorcycles and trucks) dealerships in California and other states, representing both buyers and sellers, encompassing over 300 franchises. These transactions also include the leasing or the purchase and sale of the real property for the dealerships.  He has, in addition represented dealers before the California New Motor Vehicle Board and the California Bureau of Automotive Repair, as well in settlement negotiations of industry related lawsuits.

A former officer and director of FirstAmerica Automotive, Mr. Bercovich has been involved in strategic planning related to the ownership and operation of Automobile dealerships.

Mr. Bercovich was admitted to California bar, 1975.  He acquired his J.D. from Golden Gate University in 1975 and his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara in  1972.  Mr. Bercovich is the Managing Partner of Kay & Merkle, LLP.

John W. Merkle

John W. Merkle, a partner of Kay & Merkle, LLP, focuses his practice in the areas of estate and gift taxation and planning, generational wealth transfers, minimization of estate and gift tax, as well negotiation and documentation of complex business transactions.  Recent representation has included multiple generations of high net worth families engaged in the ownership, development, management and leasing of substantial commercial and multi-family real estate holdings; the intra-family transfer of management control and asset ownership of significant estates; as well as the restructuring and financing of family buyouts, transfers of real estate and entity interests and related documentation.

Mr. Merkle acquired his LLM in taxation from New York University in 1975, his J.D. from the University of San Diego in 1974, and his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Davis in 1971.

Alan J. Silver

Alan J. Silver, admitted to California bar, 1977; Education:  University of California (A.B., 1974); Golden Gate University (J.D., 1977).  Mr. Silver has been with Kay & Merkle, LLP since 1981 and has been a partner since 1986.  Mr. Silver has been certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Specialist in Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law since 1992.  Mr. Silver specializes in complex estate and gift tax planning, estate and trust administration, estate conflict resolution and related matters.  Mr. Silver’s practice places particular emphasis on the personal and intra-family aspects of estate planning, generational and multi-generational wealth transfers, use of devices such as family partnerships and “defective” grantor (and dynasty) trusts for estate and gift tax minimization.  Mr. Silver provides consultation services to various attorneys and accountants in connection with estate tax return preparation.  Mr. Silver has spoken to groups in the life insurance industry on complex estate planning and the effective use and proper role of insurance in estate planning; and has offered presentations to community groups regarding estate planning, use of lifetime giving techniques including charitable trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, family limited partnerships and limited liability companies, short term grantor retained annuity trusts, etc. Mr. Silver is a member of the San Francisco and American Bar Associations.

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