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News from the Director

Mat Zwerling

The First District Appellate Project is pleased to honor and recognize the contributions and achievements of Executive Director Mat Zwerling who retired this month.  

After college and having been accepted to Stanford Medical School, Mat spent the summer of 1964 as a civil rights worker in Mississippi. Mat worked on a voter registration effort and promoted community participation. Tragically, his friend Andrew Goodman was one of three civil rights workers killed that summer in Mississippi. Heavily influenced by his experience in Mississippi, Mat chose a career in law instead of medicine.

After graduating from Yale Law School in 1968, Mat clerked for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia. Judge Wright was well known for his desegregation orders. Following his clerkship, Mat worked for two years as a public defender under the leadership of Barbara Babcock, at the highly acclaimed Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.

Mat subsequently taught as a law professor at Catholic University in Washington and at the University of San Francisco School of Law in San Francisco.

In 1986, Mat assisted Bob Calhoun in founding FDAP. For the past 26 years, Mat has served FDAP and its clients in several capacities. He first handled staff cases and served as Assistant Director for 12 years. For the past 14 years Mat has served as FDAP’s executive director, with his steady hand leading FDAP in providing dedicated and first rate representation to our clients, support and training for our panel attorneys and exemplary administrative services for the judiciary. He was honored when the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court appointed him to three terms on the Appellate Indigent Defense Oversight Committee.

Through the years, Mat balanced his professional work at FDAP with his outside interests as a soccer referee, an electric bass player in a rock band, and an avid hiker. FDAP wishes Mat well in his retirement, and extends our great appreciation for his leadership and all the great work he has done for FDAP and our clients. We also extend our appreciation to Mat’s wife Holly and his son Michael, who have shared Mat with us.

Oct., 2012

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