Matthew Richards, Nixon Peabody LLP, Litigation practice

Matthew A. Richards

Matt Richards is a litigator who represents owners and general contractors in federal and state court construction litigation and in arbitration. He also has significant antitrust, bankruptcy and appellate experience.

What do you focus on?

Construction & Real Estate Development

I represent public entities, private owners, and general contractors in all phases of construction, from counseling and contract drafting through litigation of complex construction disputes. When litigation is required, I develop and implement case-specific strategies, from pre-litigation claims investigation through fact and expert discovery to trial and appeal.

My background and experience in bankruptcy and appellate work uniquely positions me to address two key ancillary issues that frequently confront my clients as litigation unfolds—dealing with insolvent adversaries and defending favorable rulings, judgments, and verdicts on appeal. Having also litigated construction defect, mechanic’s lien, contract, insurance, indemnification, and statute of limitation/statute of repose issues from all sides, I can effectively advise our clients to minimize their risk.

Commercial Litigation

I litigate complex commercial matters in industries ranging from technology to logistics and insurance, and in a variety of practice areas, including antitrust, insurance, and trade secrets. I coordinate strategy for, handle administrative appeals regarding, and litigate all manner of FOIA and state public records act matters.

What do you see on the horizon?

The construction industry is on the leading edge of significant structural changes that will fundamentally alter how services are delivered and projects are built. Strategic adoption of disruptive technologies (drones and 3-D printing, to name two high-profile examples) will give savvy owners and contractors alike advantages over less adaptive competitors. These new technologies will raise new legal issues as well, as the law evolves to meet the pace of change.

Representative Cases

  • Represent The Regents of the University of California in a groundbreaking patent enforcement campaign to protect its rights in a revolutionary new generation of light bulb technology known as filament LED that was invented by a Nobel laureate-led team at UC Santa Barbara. The campaign includes litigation before the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. District Courts for the Central District of California and Eastern District of New York, and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Represent The Regents of the University of California and another university system in cases involving claims for breach of contract and negligence against contractors and manufacturers and suppliers of utility piping arising from the catastrophic failure of underground utilities distribution piping systems at multiple campuses.
  • Represent leading international human rights organization in U.S. District Court litigation against the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, and USICE to compel production of materials responsive to Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • Represent single-family residential owner in $10+ million construction defect and breach of contract arbitration against general contractor terminated for cause for failure to perform the work on project.
  • Represented The Regents of the University of California in claims for breach of contract and negligence against designers, contractors, and manufacturer and supplier of utility piping arising from the catastrophic failure of an underground utilities distribution piping system designed to deliver hot water, chilled water, and steam to several buildings at the UCSF Mission Bay campus. Settled on favorable terms with all defendants.
  • Represented public works contractor against subcontractor claiming unpaid amounts due on completion contract, unpaid retention, and prompt payment penalties in California state court bench trial. Obtained judgment on client’s cross-complaint for disgorgement of all monies paid to subcontractor due to subcontractor’s performance of unlicensed work for failure to carry workers' compensation insurance. Successfully defended judgment and subsequent award of attorneys’ fees on appeal.
  • Represented public works contractor claiming unpaid retention, change order work, and fraud against school district and individual defendant, and defended contractor against breach of contract and false claims by district in three-week California state court jury trial. Obtained jury verdict on all affirmative claims and successfully defended against district’s false claims cause of action.
  • Represented co-guarantor on failed condominium construction project in suit against other co-guarantor in California state court bench trial. Obtained judgment and net recovery in client’s favor.
  • Defended public works contractor against subcontractor’s claims for nonpayment and improper termination in California state court bench trial. Obtained defense verdict on motion for judgment at close of plaintiff’s evidence, obtained award of attorneys’ fees, and successfully defended judgment and award on appeal.
  • Defended Fortune 500 company against general contractor and subcontractors’ mechanic’s lien and other claims arising from solar panel installation project in complex, consolidated California state court cases. Obtained favorable early resolution of all consolidated cases.
  • Defended insurance company against former agent’s $25 million wrongful termination claim, including alleged fraud and interference. Obtained summary judgment with respect to all of former agent’s claims. Prevailed in Eastern District of California jury trial on all counterclaims, and awarded all damages sought.
  • Defended client in real estate dispute against buyer’s allegations of fraud and failure to disclose material information. Obtained summary judgment on all claims in Northern District of California.
  • Defended Fortune 500 energy company against allegations of conspiracy, price fixing, and unfair competition in multibillion dollar class action. Obtained early, favorable result for client.
  • Represented major forest products company in series of antitrust (alleged monopolization) litigation, including jury trial, in federal district court.
  • Represented numerous clients seeking asylum on political and social group grounds, including targets of gang violence and anti-LGBTQ persecution, before the USCIS’s San Francisco Asylum Office and in adversary proceedings before the San Francisco Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit.


Nixon Peabody looks to tie billable 'impact lawyering' to pro bono work with new hire

The American Lawyer | December 16, 2021

This article, announcing the arrival of Director of Pro Bono & Social Impact Sharmaine Heng, articulates NP’s social impact strategy and highlights our firm’s focus on “impact lawyering” among billable practice areas. In addition to quoting Sharmaine, the article includes quotes from Strategic Impact partners Jill Gordon and Greg Doran and Pro Bono Partner Matt Richards

5 insurers off hook for city's $5M flood damage costs

Law360 | February 05, 2021

This article covers a California federal judge’s decision clearing five insurers of covering more than $5 million in settlements and other costs resulting from a trio of suits alleging the city of Walnut Creek failed to maintain its storm drains and caused flooding. NP was mentioned for the work by San Francisco Complex Commercial Disputes partner Matthew Richards and department attorney Dawn Noel Valentine in representing Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, an AIG subsidiary.


Bloomberg Law | February 25, 2020

This round-up of personnel moves in the legal industry features the selection of San Francisco Complex Commercial Disputes partner Matt Richards as Nixon Peabody’s new pro bono partner.

On the Move

San Francisco Daily Journal | February 24, 2020

San Francisco Complex Commercial Disputes partner Matt Richards, who became the firm’s new pro bono partner on February 1, talks to the Daily Journal about his new role and the connections between pro bono and his day-to-day litigation practice.

On the Move: Tracking the ins and outs of California lawyers

The Recorder | February 21, 2020

The appointment of San Francisco Complex Commercial Disputes partner Matt Richards to pro bono partner is included in this roundup of notable executive news.


Matthew A. Richards


San Francisco

Phone: 415-984-5093

Fax: 866-904-7778

University of California, Hastings College of the Law, J.D., cum laude (Order of the Coif; Thurston Society; Editor-in-Chief, Hastings International & Comparative Law Review)

University of California, Berkeley, B.A.with distinction in general scholarship


U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

U.S. District Court, Central District of California

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

U.S. District Court, Southern District of California

Matt has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by the publishers of the 2013 and 2014 Northern California Super Lawyers  magazine. Inclusion in Super Lawyers is based on a peer-review survey.

He has been recommended in The Legal 500 United States 2019 editorial for Real estate—Construction (including construction litigation).

  • AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Board of Directors and Executive Committee
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Member
  • American Bar Association, Appellate Judges Conference
  • Marin County District Attorney’s Office, Deputy District Attorney (2011)
  • UC Hastings Alumni Association

Matt is the pro bono partner for the firm’s San Francisco office, and was the 2017 Nixon Peabody Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.

His pro bono work includes successful representation of numerous clients seeking asylum in both affirmative applications and adversary proceedings; handling numerous Freedom of Information Act administrative appeals and U.S. District Court litigation for a renowned international human rights organization; successfully helping refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria resettle in safe third countries in partnership with the International Refugee Assistance Program; and bringing suit against the Idaho Department of Corrections in U.S. District Court on behalf of a transgender inmate denied medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria.

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