DRLC is excited to announce the hiring of its new Director of the Civil Rights Litigation Program, long-time disability rights attorney and advocate, Christopher H. Knauf. Mr. Knauf formally joined DRLC in mid-December during the office’s move to its new location at Wilshire & Union. Mr. Knauf “returns home” to DRLC, after having served as an Equal Justice Works fellow and litigation staff attorney from 1998-2003.
For the past 13 years, Mr. Knauf ran the public interest law firm of Knauf Associates in Santa Monica, California. He founded the firm in 2006, focusing on disability rights and education-related legal issues, including special education. During its run, Knauf Associates achieved dozens of successful negotiated settlements on behalf of adults and children with disabilities, including a nearly $1 million arbitration award, a jury trial verdict, various administrative hearing victories, and several successful Ninth Circuit appeals.
In addition to extensive litigation experience in state and federal trial and appellate courts, Mr. Knauf brings a wealth of community and government advocacy experience. He helped found the City of Santa Monica’s Disabilities Commission and served on the commission for 15 years. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Disability Community Resource Center (formerly known as the Westside Center for Independent Living) for seven years. Mr. Knauf has spoken at various conferences, seminars, and trainings on disability rights, litigation strategy, and organizational management. He is also active in his local community, serving on school site councils and the board of his daughters’ local softball league.
Prior to founding Knauf Associates in 2006, Mr. Knauf worked at Lozano Smith, representing school districts and community college districts in special education, labor, employment, and general education matters. And before working for the DRLC (then Western Law Center for Disability Rights) in 1998-2003, Mr. Knauf began his legal career as a law fellow at Bet Tzedek Legal Services from 1996-1998.
Mr. Knauf earned his J.D. in 1996 from the University of Southern California Law School, where he helped run the Public Interest Law Foundation and other community service projects, for which he was named a winner of the prestigious Shattuck Award. Mr. Knauf received his B.A. in Political Science and Business and Administration from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1991. He most definitely identifies as a Bruin for all sports-related purposes.