Cynthia Merrill coordinates and teaches in the LL.M. Legal Research and Writing Program at UCLA School of Law. She earned her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was a Submissions Editor for the Yale Law Journal and an Articles Editor for the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities. She clerked for the Honorable George H. King, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, then joined the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny and Myers, where she practiced complex civil and appellate litigation for over a decade. She litigated cases including constitutional challenges to the federal statute governing Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy proceedings, contract actions, mass torts and attorneys’ general actions against pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, and multi-district consumer class actions. Professor Merrill was named a “Top Attorney” in civil litigation by Pasadena Magazine in 2012 and 2013.
Professor Merrill’s extensive pro bono practice included a ten-year long case that successfully challenged a Southern California municipality’s failure to comply with statutory affordable housing laws, resulting in hundreds of new units of affordable housing. From 2016 to 2018, she headed up O’Melveny’s team in a consortium of public interest and private law firms working to develop affirmative litigation to curb gun violence. She served as an attorney supervisor in UCLA Law’s Ninth Circuit Appellate Clinic, representing immigrants on asylum and other appeals. She also worked as an appellate attorney in the California Court of Appeal.
Prior to her legal career, Professor Merrill earned a doctorate in English from the University of Washington and taught for many years in UCLA Writing Programs, the Honor Collegium, and Gender Studies. She led seminars in writing pedagogy for graduate teaching assistants from throughout the College of Letters and Sciences and consulted with faculty developing writing intensive courses. In 2002, Professor Merrill was honored with UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Beginning in 2010, Professor Merrill was a Research Scholar and Affiliate with the UCLA Center for the Study of Women. Drawing on constitutional law, narrative theory, and feminist theory, her research has addressed the construction of the legal subject in adjudication of constitutional reproductive rights issues, autobiographical legal theory, and the role of police provocation in assessing claims of excessive force.