Daily Journal Names Patrick McNicholas & Brandon Castor to 2024 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Awards

Partner Patrick McNicholas and Associate Brandon Castor have been recognized by Daily Journal’s CLAY Awards 2024 for securing nearly half a billion dollars for California wildfire victims last year. The feature highlights that McNicholas & McNicholas is one of a few law firms representing the most clients affected by wildfires, with approximately 15,000 clients to date.

When asked about the most important result of wildfire litigation and how the settlements affect their clients’ lives, McNicholas said, “It’s not a perfect resolution, but by and large most clients, as a result of their individual resolutions, can move on with their lives economically, emotionally and psychologically.”

The profile discusses how utilities are now paying more attention and taking preventive measures to limit wildfires in response to the fire victims’ settlements. McNicholas commented, “It’s become more expensive for them to allow the fires to occur…so now they’re doing things, for example, like hardening their [power] lines, clearing the lines of vegetation and beginning to underground a lot of the high voltage lines, which is a huge benefit to the entire state.”

Castor explained systemic issues contributing to wildfire severity, citing global warming and inadequate vegetation management by utilities. He emphasized a common cause: underfunding or neglect of vegetation management departments by public utilities.

Additionally, McNicholas was acknowledged for helping pass AB 1054, which established a fund to compensate victims of utility-caused fires if the utilities are unable to do so. The fund, which currently holds about $25 billion, is funded by three utilities.

The CLAY Awards honor California attorneys for their impactful contributions to society and the law. Read McNicholas and Castor’s feature here (subscription required) and see the full list of 2024 CLAY recipients here (subscription required).