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About me

Sanaz Nikaein is Dean Litigation's managing principal. Her practice is focused on criminal defense and family law.  In 2014, she was appointed to San Francisco Superior Court as a Judge Pro Tem. She continues to serve as a Judge Pro Tem while managing her practice.

In 2013, Sanaz was chosen by a panel of San Francisco Superior Court judges to serve on the Bar of San Francisco's Indigent Defense Panel and Juvenile Delinquency Panel. Sanaz dedicates approximately 25% of her practice to representing individual adults in criminal cases and minors in delinquency cases who are not able to afford their own legal counsel. 

Before founding Dean Litigation, Sanaz was an assistant district attorney, where she spent almost eight years in the felony trial team prosecuting adults charged with violent crimes. She was nicknamed the "DA of Death" due to her remarkable trial skills and ability to obtain favorable verdicts, even on very challenging cases.

Sanaz is known for litigating numerous high profile cases, some which have received international coverage. Click here for a list of cases.

While at the San Francisco District Attorney's office, Sanaz was one of the two attorneys who was specially assigned to a federal grant to prosecute those with exetensive criminal records who committed serious or violent crimes in a predetermined high crime area (designated by the federal government). Most of her caseload involved prosecuting multiple co-defendants, and individuals who were charged under the three strikes law, or those who had caused significant bodily injuries to others.

Sanaz spent years as an activist, shedding light to the abuse inside of Iranian political prisons, and women's rights in Iran. She has numerous publications in this area, and had numerous speaking engagements on satellite T.V., radio, and universities.

In 2006, Sanaz was honored by now Lt. Governor Newsom, then San Francisco Mayor, for her role and contribution to the Women of Iranian Diaspora. Sanaz has also founded and has been involved in establishing several Iranian society and professional organizations in Northern California, which continue to thrive.

Sanaz has received numerous awards for her volunteer work. Sanaz has been a guest speaker at women's shelters, and high schools throughout the Bay Area. Sanaz mentors several students from Mercy High School and Golden Gate Law School. She also assists in coaching the Golden Gate Law School Trial Team. 

After graduating from University of California, Berkeley, Sanaz went to Golden Gate University School of Law on a full academic scholarship, and was admitted in the honors lawyering program. She also received a certificate of specialization in International Law with distinction in honors. While in Law school, she competed in the international moot court and won the 2nd place award. In 2001, during judicial externship in the Iranian Municipal Courts, she presented a new interpretation of Islamic Constitutional Law that was later adopted in a case involving a Chinese Ambassador in Iran. 



Languages spoken: Farsi

Photos and videos

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Practice areas


  1. Family: 50%
    5 years
  2. Criminal Defense: 50%
    12 years



Fixed (sometimes), Retainer (sometimes), Free consultation (30 minutes)

Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

25 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Mark V. Clay

    I highly endorse Mrs. Nikaein. Truly exceptional and caring attorney who produces great results in representing clients! I want all people with legal problems to contact her first.


    Mark Clay Immigration Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

  • Jill L Rogers

    I endorse this lawyer for her dedication to the community.


    Jill Rogers Divorce and separation Attorney
    Relationship: Other

Contact info

Dean Litigation

177 Post Street, Suite 700
San Francisco, CA, 94108


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Outstanding Volunteer in Youth EducationContra Costa County2009
Honored for role in contribution to Women of Iranian DiasporaLt. Governor Newsom2006
Obtained J.D in the Honors Lawyering ProgramGolden Gate SOL2003
Certification in International Law with Distinction in HonorsGolden Gate SOL2003
2nd Place Award in International CompetitionInternational Moot Court2002
Highest Honors in Near Eastern StudiesUniversity of California Berkeley1999
Certificate of Honors in Psi Chi Honor Society in PsychologyUniversity of California Berkeley1999
Certificate of Honor in Golden Key National Honor SocietyUniversity of California Berkeley1999
Certificate of Honor in The National Honor Society in PsychologyUniversity of California1999
Highest Distinction of Honor in General ScholarshipUniversity of California Berkeley1999
Certificate of Honor in Alpha Gamma Sigma National Honor SocietyUniversity of California Berkeley1997
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
PrincipleDean Litigation2012 - Present
Assistant District AttorneySan Francisco District Attorney's Office2007 - 2012
Deputy District AttorneyStanislaus County District Attorney's Office2005 - 2007
Association namePosition nameDuration
California Women LawyersAnnual Conference Committee2015 - Present
Queen's Bench Bar AssociationJuvenile Hall Project Committee; Domestic Violence Committee2014 - Present
California Public Defenders AssociationMember2013 - Present
San Francisco Bar AssociationMember2007 - Present
Iranian American Bar AssociationBoard of Directors2006 - Present
Iranian Society of ProfessionalMember2004 - Present
American Bar AssociationMember2004 - Present
La Raza Bar AssociationMentorship Committee1999 - Present
California District Attorneys AssociationMember2005 - 2012
Publication nameTitleDate
Let Me Tell You Where I've BeenBad2007
A World BetweenReoccurring Dreams2001
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
University of California - BerkeleyN/ABA - Bachelor of ArtsN/A
Golden Gate University School of LawLawJD - Juris DoctorN/A
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Appearance with Sister Prejean (Author dead man walking)Death Penalty2010
San Francisco De Young Asian Art MuseumLet Me Tell You Where I've Been2008
Stanislaus County Women Lawyers AssociationWomen's Rights in Iran2007
San Jose State UniversityLet Me Tell You Where I've Been2007
World Affairs CouncilA World Between2002
Satellite TVTorture in Political Prisons2001
KPFA RadioIranian Political Prisons2001