Dennis S. Zell

Our People

Dennis S. Zell

Shareholder, Chair - Appellate

411 Borel Avenue, Suite 310
San Mateo, CA 94402

650-963-2186 | 650-963-2171

Dennis S. Zell

Main Bio

Practice Overview

Dennis Zell is a highly accomplished attorney with over 25 years of civil litigation experience, including trial and appellate work in both California and Federal courts. Dennis’ current trial practice consists mostly of real estate and trust litigation cases. He also accepts cases involving breach of contracts, zoning & land use, and free speech. Dennis’ primary role at Hoge Fenton is serving as the Chair of the Appellate Practice Group where he oversees all appeals, amicus briefs, and writs.


Prior to joining Hoge Fenton, Dennis was a general practitioner at the Zell Law Firm and a senior litigation associate for Fox, Shjeflo, Hartley, & Babu, and Coddington, Hicks & Danforth, LLP.

Practice Areas


  • J.D., Golden Gate University, School of Law with a certification of Specialization in Litigation
  • B.A., Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles


  • California State Bar
  • United States District Court, Northern District of California
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of California
  • United States District Court, Central District of California
  • United States District Court, Southern District of California
  • United States Supreme Court


Affiliation & Awards

Professional Activities

Dennis has been a member of the San Mateo Bar Association since 1999 and a member of American Business Trial Lawyers Association, Northern California since 2009. He has been a Coach for the San Mateo County Bar Association Mock Trial Program since 2004.

Dennis is currently a Board Director of the Peninsula Health Care District (a California Special District located in Burlingame) and a Director of the California Association of Health Care Districts located in Sacramento.

He served over 200,000 constituents on the San Francisco Peninsula as an elected public official. The district projects during his tenure include the construction of an $80 million assisted living and memory care center, the establishment of a community dental center serving at-risk populations, the Teen Mental Health Initiative, numerous grants to community health organizations, pre-development of eight acre Peninsula Wellness Community for seniors, and a home for developmentally disabled people. Dennis served five years as the Board treasurer and currently serves as the Chair of the Finance Committee of the district.

He has been an active member of the Burlingame Rotary Club since 2002 and was the chapter’s President from 2010-2011.

Representative Experience

Representative Matters/Clients

  • Alliance for a Better Downtown Millbrae v. Wade (2003) 108 Cal. App. 4th 123
  • Maldonado v. Harris (9th Cir. 2004) 370 F. 3d 945, cert. denied (2005) 544 U.S. 968
  • Maldonado v. Kempton (N.D. Cal. 2006) 422 F. Supp. 2d 1169 (Breyer, J.)
  • Maldonado v. Morales (9th Cir. 2009) 556 F. 3d 1037, cert. denied (2010) 558 U.S.1158

Speaking & Publications

Mackrell International California Minority Counsel Program Best Places to Work 2019 Bay Area Green Business