“A human element that I really savor”

Judge A. Howard Matz (Retired)

Hon. A. Howard Matz was appointed by President Bill Clinton as a Federal Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles) and served for 15 years between 1998 and 2013. He presided over numerous noteworthy cases and several of his decisions were ultimately adjudicated by the Supreme Court. Judge Matz served on many judicial committees, including the Ninth Circuit Model Jury Instructions Committee. Judge Matz was the first recipient of the “Vanguard Award” bestowed by the California State Bar for his contributions to intellectual property jurisprudence. Following his retirement from the bench, the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federal Bar Association sponsored an unusual Tribute Dinner honoring his service as a judge.

The dynamic between what you do as a mediator or arbitrator vis-a-vis the lawyers is very different from the dynamic of being a judge.

When you’re a judge, all eyes in the courtroom are on you. You’re the only person sitting along the wall where the judge sits, the only person sitting on a quasi-elevated throne, the only person wearing a robe, and the only person subject to appellate review.

None of those features is present in mediation and arbitration. You are sitting in a conference room in an intimate setting, very close to the litigant and lawyers. The interchange is less formal and often not transcribed. There is a human element that I really savor that is very different from being a judge.

Being a judge is a great job, but it’s very isolating. You don’t have the same involvement with human beings that you have in mediation and arbitration, and that’s a major appeal of this kind of work.

–Howard Matz