Dena Roche Partner
“The success of any attorney transition requires careful analysis and thoughtful planning. Being prepared for and anticipating potential issues, taking a firm hand in controlling the transition process, and knowing the scope of your rights and obligations, are the key factors that lead to positive outcomes.”
Main 415-952-3002
Direct 415-952-3006

Dena Roche, an experienced litigator and trial attorney, provides advice and counsel to California lawyers and law firms on a wide variety of business and partnership matters, law firm practice management and legal ethics issues. She provides counsel to law firms and attorneys on strategic transitions, including all aspects of partner and group departures, partnership agreements and law firm structures, compensation systems, succession planning, and law firm dissolutions. Ms. Roche serves as a consultant and expert witness on law firm departures and attorney transition matters. Ms. Roche is also a certified mediator who conducts mediations throughout California with an emphasis on resolving business and partnership related disputes.

Partner Departure Law

Dena Roche provides wide-ranging advice, counsel and representation to partners considering departing from an existing partnership, law firms handling the transition of a departing partner, and to partners and law firms that are planning for, or anticipating, the dissolution of an existing partnership.

  • Counsels and advises departing partners, shareholders and groups of attorneys on all aspects of their contractual, legal, and ethical obligations to firm partnerships and to clients, including analyzing financial rights and obligations, attorney ethics rules and requirements, and the proper handling of client transitions. This includes developing a comprehensive transition plan and checklist that validates the departing partner’s rights and confirms his or her obligations to the law firm and clients.
  • Provides comprehensive counsel and advice to law firms managing the departure of law partners or groups of attorneys with an eye towards protecting the firm’s interests and assisting with compliance of its legal and ethical obligations to clients and the departing attorneys. This includes advice on enforcing partners’ contractual obligations, enforcing restrictions on client or employee solicitation, managing the logistics of the transition, and protecting the firm’s client relationships and intellectual property.
  • Counsels and advises law firms and other partnerships that are considering acquiring lateral additions to their business. This includes analyzing ethical and legal obligations when courting potential new partners, including identifying and resolving potential conflicts of interest, confidentiality concerns and other similar issues.
  • Publishes the California Partner Departure Law blog, reporting on recent developments and providing analysis on important topics related to transitioning departing partners into new partnerships with an emphasis on minimizing risk and reducing potential liabilities.

Legal Ethics Counsel

Ms. Roche provides wide-ranging advice, counsel and representation to attorneys, law firms, and legal departments regarding attorney ethics issues, practice management, and compliance.

  • Counsels and advises attorneys and law firms on attorney ethics issues, including conflicts of interest, client confidentiality, attorney marketing, client solicitation, fiduciary duties, fee agreements, lawyer-client relationships, client communications, technology and social media ethics.
  • Serves as an outside General Counsel to law firms, advising on attorney ethics, compliance, and practice management.
  • Member of the Firm’s legal ethics audit team for law firms and legal departments, identifying and implementing best practices, and identifying and resolving potential ethics compliance and practice management issues.

Law Firm Advice and Planning

Ms. Roche provides advice and counsel to California attorneys and law firms on a wide variety of strategic business issues and transitions, including partnership agreements and firm structure, law firm risk management, law firm compensation systems, law firm start-up planning, law firm succession planning and law firm dissolutions.

Partnership Disputes

When partnership or business disputes arise, Ms. Roche works with clients and other parties to explore negotiated resolutions whenever possible, including drafting and negotiating separation, dissolution or buy-sell agreements. However, sometimes litigation is necessary and unavoidable. Ms. Roche has successfully represented parties in partnership-related disputes involving breach of contract, commercial lease obligations, claims such as breach of fiduciary duty, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, civil conspiracy, tortious interference claims, unfair competition (California Business & Professions Code §17200), trade secrets violations, defamation, and fraudulent inducement.

Ms. Roche is a litigator and trial attorney who has represented clients in all phases of litigation and case management, including trial and arbitration. She has successfully litigated matters in both state and federal courts through dispositive motions, at trial and on appeal throughout Northern and Southern California. She has extensive experience defending clients in complex and multi-party litigation matters, as well as class actions lawsuits, and has had numerous successes at trial. Ms. Roche also has significant experience at arbitration hearings, mediation and pre-trial settlement matters.


Ms. Roche is also a certified mediator who conducts private and pro bono mediation throughout California with an emphasis on resolving business and partnership related disputes.