Christopher Knauf – Director of Litigation, Disability Rights Legal Center
Mr. Knauf has practiced public interest civil and disability rights litigation, including special education, for nearly 25 years. Following 14 years running his own public interest law firm, Mr. Knauf has been the Director of Litigation at the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles, California since late 2019. DRLC is a national non-profit law office that has been a leader in the disability rights community for over 45 years. DRLC litigates individual, multi-plaintiff, and class action impact cases in California and throughout the country. DRLC enlists top California law firms as pro bono co-counsel in most matters and is very involved in the disability and legal communities, conducting education and advocacy efforts whenever possible, and participating in numerous amicus briefs in California and throughout the country.
Mr. Knauf is a 1996 graduate of the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, and began his career with two highly competitive fellowships at Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Los Angeles, and the Western Law Center for Disability Rights (now the Disability Rights Legal Center), where he remained for several years following his fellowship. Prior to starting his own firm (Knauf Associates), Mr. Knauf tried his hand at defense work, joining the education law firm Lozano Smith, where he did his best to defend public school districts in special education and employment matters.
At Knauf Associates, among dozens of successful settlements and judgments, in King v. Kaplan, Inc. (Concord Law School), Mr. Knauf and his cocounsel achieved a nearly $1 million arbitration award on behalf of a deaf client who was not accommodated in an online degree program. Mr. Knauf has litigated hundreds of matters, first-chaired jury and bench trials, numerous administrative hearings, and argued four appeals in the Ninth Circuit, each of the latter resulting in successful rulings for his clients. The latest victory, C.L. v. Del Amo Hospital, resulted in a published nationwide precedent on the rights of people with disabilities to train their own service dogs.
Mr. Knauf has a blast litigating cases, mentoring students and attorneys, and always keeping a good sense of humor and a big picture perspective in all things, especially during challenging times.
Episode 2: C.L. v. Del Amo Hospital – 9th Circuit Ruling on Certification of Service Animals and ADA