Photo of Dana J. Dunwoody

Dana J. Dunwoody



  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1985, Associate Editor for the Industrial Relations Law Journal
  • B.A., University of California, San Diego, 1981
  • Judicial Extern for the Honorable Laughlin E. Waters of the United States District Court for the Central District of California
Thought Leadership


Dana Dunwoody is a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group and the former Administrative Partner in the firm's San Diego (Del Mar) office.

Areas of Practice

Since 1985, Dana's practice has focused on seven areas of complex litigation, arbitration and trial work: (1) disputes involving the hospitality industry; (2) disputes involving the financial services industry; (3) disputes involving the retail industry; (4) a wide variety of class action defense including privacy, unfair business practices, false advertising, securities, and independent contractor misclassification; (5) contract litigation primarily in the context of business or real estate disputes; (6) real property litigation, including CEQA and land use in addition to traditional disputes concerning development agreements, partition, and purchase and sale issues; and (7) intra-corporate and partnership disputes in a wide variety of businesses including energy producers, real property developers, financial service providers, and hoteliers.

Respecting his hospitality practice, Dana has developed significant expertise in disputes concerning hotels, resorts, and golf courses, and he has represented international management companies, hotel owners and funding sources. Dana is a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC). 

Dana is a Team Leader of the firm's Hospitality Practice Group and has led the firm’s Class Action Retail Team.


  • Top Lawyer, San Diego Magazine, 2019
  • Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers, 2017
  • San Diego Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers, 2015-2019
  • Recognized by SD Metro as one of San Diego's Best Attorneys, 2014
  • Best Lawyers in America (in multiple categories, including real estate litigation, and banking and finance litigation), Best Lawyers, 2011-2020
  • Southern California Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers, 2007-2015
  • San Diego County Top Attorneys, San Diego Daily Transcript


Prior to joining Sheppard Mullin, Mr. Dunwoody worked for 15 years in a boutique trial firm he founded in San Diego known as Mazzarella, Dunwoody & Caldarelli LLP. Prior to that, Mr. Dunwoody was associated with the San Diego office of Allen, Matkins, Leck, Gamble & Mallory, San Diego's Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, and Los Angeles's Cox, Castle & Nicholson.

Representative Clients

InterContinental Hotels Group, Inc.; Nordstrom; Saks Fifth Avenue; Macy's; JCPenney; Hilton International; Promus Hotels, Inc.; Four Seasons Resort Owners Association; Greystone Hospitality; Eurohypo AG; Platinum Equity; Lennar; Allied Waste; NRG Energy, Inc.; Morrison & Foerster, LLP; Heritage Golf Group; Barratt Developments PLC, and others.

Thought Leadership


  • Overcoming Confusion For Franchisors, New York Law Journal, August 11, 2014
  • Top Attorneys 2010, San Diego Daily Transcript, July 21, 2010
  • One of three authors on the annual Lexis/Nexis publication called California Federal Civil Rules: with local commentary.
  • One of three consultants on the Lexis/Nexis publication called Matthew Bender® Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation originally published in 2005, and still in current publication.
  • One of Eight members of the LexisNexis California Advisory Board for Legal Publications.
  • Served as a Consulting Editor for CEB's "Action Guide" series.
  • Co-authored a chapter on Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation and Arbitration of hospitality disputes in "Hotel Investments: Issues & Perspectives"- 4th Edition.
  • Edited portions of CEB's "Effective Use of ADR in California"
  • Written numerous other articles on legal topics and topics affecting the hotel industry.

Speaking Engagements

  • Frequent lecturer and panelist in continuing education programs sponsored by the California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), the Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL), the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA), American Conference Institute (ACI), Corporate Counsel Exchange and other organizations, where he has taught classes on class actions, trial, and deposition techniques and strategies.


  • Advisory Board, Hotel & Lodging Legal Summit
  • Former Chair, Executive Committee of the then 12,000 member Litigation Section of the California State Bar.
  • Editor-In-Chief, Litigation Section's newsletter, 1990-1994.
  • Board member, Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL) of San Diego.
  • Senior Trial Master, American Inns of Court.
  • Super Lawyer, Top Attorneys and Best Lawyers in America - peer review honors granted to only the very top of each legal specialty.