Chris Lynch Earns CLAY Award for Housing Rights Victory

Munger, Tolles & Olson attorneys Christopher M. Lynch and Ellen Medlin Richmond were recognized by the Daily Journal with the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award, which honors “lawyers in California who used their considerable talents to bring about fairness,” on March 21, 2018. Working pro bono, Mr. Lynch and Ms. Richmond secured an appellate victory on behalf of two Los Angeles renters that expands the rights of all 16 million California tenants.

The decision marks the culmination of a lengthy and complicated case that wound through several court proceedings before being resolved in the Appellate Division of Los Angeles Superior Court. The ruling – deemed a “precedent-setting win” by the publication – establishes the right for renters in California to have a jury trial in an unlawful detainer suit when facing an eviction with a habitability defense.

According to the Daily Journal, once Ms. Richmond and Mr. Lynch stepped in for the appeal, “they immersed themselves in the legislative history of the unlawful detainer statutes,” ultimately uncovering material showing the legislature’s intent to protect tenants’ jury trial right. 

As Ms. Richmond told the Daily Journal, “[m]any tenants who have faced eviction once see their situation as precarious, so it’s important to continue to do pro bono work on their behalf.”

Mr. Lynch is a litigation attorney whose practice focuses on complex civil litigation, professional tort and fiduciary litigation, white collar defense and internal investigations, and appeals.

Ms. Richmond is a litigation attorney whose practice focuses on complex litigation at the trial and appellate levels, with a particular emphasis on environmental, energy, and life sciences matters.