Matthew J. Zalewski
Matthew J. Zalewski is a shareholder at the firm, providing general counsel and litigation services to municipalities, and specializing in land use, zoning, construction, and constitutional law. He has spent his entire legal career in municipal law, having previously served as a law clerk and Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Dearborn.
Matt has handled litigation and appeals in state and federal courts on subjects including takings, ordinance validity, sign regulations, permit and inspection procedures, nuisances, code enforcement, dangerous building demolition, short-term rentals, moratoria, inland lake levels, riparian rights, municipal service fees, development contracts, speech, religion, equal protection, due process, election law, discrimination, harassment, police conduct, negligence, and personal injury. He is experienced in handling matters in the Michigan Tax Tribunal and State Construction Code Commission, defending municipal interests in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and prosecuting code enforcement cases.
In his general counsel capacity, Matt has advised communities on matters including zoning, development, building codes, nuisance abatement, condemnation, property taxation, administrative searches, First Amendment policies, special assessment districts, wetlands, land transactions, contracts, library law, and compliance with the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts. He has substantial experience working with municipal boards and commissions, defending their actions, and designing rules of procedure to guide their activities. He is skilled at drafting ordinances and policies that are compatible with substantive law and that comply with due process requirements.
Matt carries his passion for government into the community and the classroom. He served nearly 10 years on the Dearborn Planning Commission and served a term representing the general public on the Michigan Residential Builders’ and Maintenance and Alteration Contractors’ Board. He has also taught courses on constitutional and administrative law at Michigan State and Eastern Michigan Universities, including a course he designed on law for public administrators.
- General Municipal Law
- Constitutional Law and Civil Rights
- Zoning and Land Use
- Real Estate and Construction
- Taxes and Assessing
- Insurance Defense
- Michigan State University (Political Science), M.A., 2015
- Wayne State University Law School, J.D., 2008
- Oakland University (History & Political Science), B.A., 2004
- State Bar of Michigan
Government Law Section
- Oakland County Bar Association, Municipal Law Committee
- American Planning Association
- Michigan State University Department of Political Science
- Eastern Michigan University Department of Political Science
Admitted to Practice
- All courts in the State of Michigan
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
- United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- United States Supreme Court
- “The King Can Do No Wrong; Or Can He?: Lessons in Governmental/Municipal Litigation for the Novice Lawyer,” Presentation to the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel (with Debani Gordon Lehman), August 25, 2021.
- “Cutting Through the Haze: Local Marijuana Regulation Issues,” Panel participant for State Bar Government Law Section Winter Seminar, February 12, 2021.
- “Land Use Update 2020, Part 1 and Part 2.” Panel participant for Institute of Continuing Legal Education On-Demand Seminar, February 24, 2020 and March 9, 2020.
- “Takings Claims after Knick v. Township of Scott.” Presentation to the Oakland County Bar Association Municipal Law Committee, November 20, 2019.
- “Municipal Law Report.” Michigan Defense Quarterly 36(1): 26-28 (with Lisa Anderson), 2019.
- “Public Notice Requirements.” Presentation to the Michigan Townships Association Clerk’s Professional Development Retreat, Bellaire, MI, July 18, 2019.
- “City Assessments and Local Policy Preferences: The Relative Roles of Demographics, Ideology, and Civic Culture.” Journal of Urban Affairs (with Laura Reese), 2018
- “Campaigning for the State High Court Bench.” Ch. 4 in Judicial Elections in the 21st Century, ed. Chris Bonneau and Melinda Gann Hall. New York: Routledge (with Melinda Hall), 2017
- “Substantive and Procedural Tolerance: Are Diverse Communities Really More Tolerant?” Urban Affairs Review, 51(6): 781-818 (with Laura Reese), 2015.
- “Random Strikes or Targeted Hits? Attack Advertising in State Supreme Court Elections,” Presentation to the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA, September 4, 2016.
- “Political Activism or Active Representation? The Nature of State Interests Represented by State Attorneys General in Federal Affordable Care Act Litigation.” Presentation to the Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April 18, 2015.
- “Home Rule or Judge Rule? State Supreme Court Behavior in Local Government Regulation Cases.” Presentation to the Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, New Orleans, LA, January 17, 2015.
Community Activities / Involvement
- Dearborn Planning Commission
Vice Chairperson, 2012-2022
- Michigan Residential Builders’ and Maintenance and Alteration Contractors’ Board
Public Member, 2018-2020
- Madison Heights Library Advisory Board
- Madison Heights Historical Commission
- Madison Heights Youth Assistance Board of Directors
Past Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary, 1998-2004
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