Umberg/Zipser LLP Announces Former Appellate Justice Halim Dhanidina has Joined the Firm

Umberg/Zipser LLP (U/Z) is pleased to announce that the Honorable Halim Dhanidina (Ret.) has joined the firm to help lead the expansion of the firm’s complex litigation practice, including trials and appeals.

Justice Dhanidina (Ret.) joins U/Z upon his retirement as an associate justice with Division Three of the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District in Los Angeles. Appointed in 2018, Dhanidina was the first South Asian American to serve as an appellate justice in the State of California and the first Muslim appellate-level judge in the United States.  As an associate justice, he wrote over 300 opinions and heard over 800 appeals. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeal, Dhanidina served for six years on the Los Angeles County Superior Court, making him the first Muslim judge ever appointed in California history. He went on to preside over 70 jury trials in this position.

Prior to his judicial career, Dhanidina had extensive trial experience as a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney for over 14 years, conducting 68 jury trials while assigned predominately to the Hardcore Gang and Major Crimes Divisions.

His passion for trial work led Dhanidina to train new trial court judges and appellate justices across California, giving him a statewide presence and network in the process. His extensive exposure and experience, both as a lawyer and judicial officer, in every legal discipline and with cases involving the highest stakes, coupled with his reputation for excellence, make him a unique asset for litigation clients.

Dhanidina commented, “I am excited to join U/Z to help grow the firm’s trial practice.  Once I made the difficult decision to leave the bench, the choice of where I would practice in this next phase of my career was easy. U/Z’s reputation for excellence and community involvement represents the legal profession at its best and directly aligns with how I view the practice of law – from the bench and the private sector. I am grateful to have the opportunity to become part of this incredible team and excited about the future.”

Dhanidina shares U/Z’s commitment to community service. As a son of educators, he has enthusiastically shared his knowledge and experience with the next generation of practitioners over the past 12 years, teaching criminal trial advocacy, civil trial advocacy, criminal procedure, professional responsibility, and criminal law at the UCI School of Law, Chapman University Fowler School of Law, Western State Law School, Whittier Law School and the Glendale University College of Law. He is a founding member of the Association of South Asian Prosecutors, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles, and Muslim Students Association at the Claremont Colleges, and has served as a judge for the Los Angeles County teen court program and volunteer coach for the Constitutional Rights Foundation Orange County’s Mock Trial competition (together with U/Z attorneys Vikki Vander Woude and Ethan Feng).

In addition, Dhanidina is a member of the Community Advisory Council for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-OC and the advisory boards of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association, South Asian Bar Association, and Muslim-Jewish NewGround. He was also appointed by the Chief Justice to serve on the steering committee for the Power of Democracy initiative to promote civic education in California public schools. Dhanidina has been recognized for his service and achievements by the California State Assembly, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, South Asian Bar Association, UCLA School of Law, South Asian Network, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

“We are incredibly proud to welcome Halim as a partner in our firm. His extensive trial and appellate experience will greatly enhance our ability to serve our clients, and his commitment to public service and giving back to the community is a natural fit with our core values. Our team is honored Halim has chosen U/Z following his remarkable career as a judicial officer,” stated Managing Partner Dean Zipser.