MoForever Alumni News Fall 2021

19 | MoForever Fall 2021 appointment, stressing the importance of diversity on the bench. At the end of April 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Dena to serve as a judge on the Sacramento County Superior Court. “Those judges who took a moment out of their day to talk to some random person that just happened to show up in their courtroom got me where I am today,” she said. “I’m just so thankful to everyone who did that for me.” Inspired by MoFo’s commitment to diversity and pro bono work Morrison & Foerster brought Dena in as a summer associate in 2007. “They took a chance on me,” Dena said of her five years at MoFo. “Because I didn’t have an Ivy League background, I was maybe not who they would typically have brought in as a summer associate or as a returning associate, but MoFo recognized the importance of having diversity on all sorts of different levels. I’m very thankful for that.” While at MoFo, Dena learned about the value of mentorship first-hand. “My mentors and the partners that I worked with at MoFo shaped me into the attorney that I was when I practiced and the judge that I’ve become,” she said. Dena credits MoFo attorneys James Brosnahan, Tony West, Jack Londen, and George Harris with helping to mold her into the judge she is today. “They gave me great advice about practicing and taught me how to analyze evidence not just from an advocacy perspective, but as a judge would analyze it because ultimately that’s what we’re doing,” she said. “We can advocate for our clients, but it’s important to look at evidence from the perspective of the fact finder, to step into the judge’s shoes. Those experiences prepared me for my current role.” According to Dena, the highlight of her career occurred while working on a pro bono case involving two brothers-in-law seeking asylum in the United States after being threatened by a notorious El Salvadorian gang. “We worked on the case for over a year and billed so much time to it, but no one ever came down on us,” she said. “The concern was always, ‘How’s it going? Do you need support? Can we be of assistance?’ That has been my proudest moment —working for a firm that prioritizes pro bono work and the good that we can do in the community. MoFo’s