Venable Adds Experienced Land Use and Zoning Group to Its Los Angeles Office

4 min

Los Angeles, CA (June 29, 2022) – Venable LLP is pleased to announce the addition of three land use and zoning attorneys to its Los Angeles office. Ellia Thompson is joining the firm as a partner, and Jeffrey Harlan and Jonathan H. Riker are joining the firm as counsel.

Mitch Evall, partner-in-charge of Venable’s Los Angeles office, said, “Our Los Angeles office is home to an exceptional real estate practice that will benefit greatly from this added capability. Ellia, Jeff, and Jonathan have extensive knowledge of the land use issues facing developers and are focused on practical solutions. They are personable, and team players.”

Ked Whitmore, chair of Venable's Land Use and Zoning Practice, said, “Ellia, Jeff, and Jonathan possess the mix of administrative and regulatory knowledge and litigation experience that clients have come to expect from our zoning and land use attorneys. Their track record of success and deep experience in Southern California and throughout the western United States make them the ideal team for expanding our group’s presence.”

Commenting on the group’s move to Venable, Ms. Thompson said, “Venable has the perfect foundation for developing a thriving land use and zoning practice in California. In addition to its strong environmental practice, a pivotal component not all firms are able to offer, the firm also maintains a deep bench of accomplished real estate, litigation, and construction attorneys. All of the elements that a robust land use team needs, we found at Venable.”

Ms. Thompson concentrates her practice on land use, planning and zoning regulations, government administrative law, and local housing laws. She works on complicated real estate and land use litigation cases, including representing landlords and property owners in various litigation matters. Her clients come to her for her extensive experience in land use entitlements, with particular emphasis on zoning and subdivisions, government administrative law, community outreach, projects located in the hillside and historical areas, and environmental compliance, especially in relation to the California Environmental Quality Act. She also has broad experience in environmental review processes, administrative proceedings, and land use litigation. In addition, she also has experience handling criminal defense for property owners who are charged with misdemeanors for failure to comply with certain property regulations including fire code, building code, health, and housing violations. Ms. Thompson received her J.D. from the George Washington University Law School and her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mr. Harlan focuses his land use and zoning practice on sustainable development, environmental design, public policy, and strategic planning. He brings a unique perspective to challenging land use and regulatory problems in California, shaped by his experience as a deputy to an elected official, planning director for a state land conservancy, and a private consultant. He calls upon his varied background to provide counsel to real estate developers and property owners on all aspects of development, from due diligence and entitlement processing to community engagement and litigation strategies. Mr. Harlan received his J.D. from Vermont Law School and his B.A. from Columbia University.

Mr. Riker’s practice focuses on land use, planning and zoning regulations, government administrative law, local housing laws, building code enforcement, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance. He frequently conducts land use and environmental due diligence for perspective real estate purchasers and assists property owners in removing a variety of code violations imposed by local government agencies. He has significant experience in implementation of the State Ellis Act and housing-related issues, including Density Bonus law. He is a recognized local CEQA expert and was one of the first attorneys in Los Angeles to become an Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). Mr. Riker received his J.D. from Tulane University Law School, his M.U.R.P. from University of New Orleans, and his B.A. from Columbia University.


Venable LLP is an American Lawyer Global 100 law firm headquartered in Washington, DC that serves as primary counsel to a worldwide clientele of large and mid-sized organizations, nonprofits, high-net-worth entrepreneurs, and other individuals. With more than 850 professionals across the country, including in California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Virginia, and Washington, DC, the firm strategically advances its clients' objectives in the United States and around the globe. Venable advises clients on a broad range of business and regulatory law, legislative affairs, complex litigation, and the full range of intellectual property disciplines. For more information, please visit