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Dana Lynn Santos

Family Attorney at Berkeley, CA

4.8   10 reviews

About Dana

Learn Dana’s areas of practice.

Practice areas
  1. Family
    Mediation for all areas of family law, including divorce, separation, custody, paternity, support, and property issues.

  2. Mediation

For years I litigated family law cases, and really enjoyed that aspect of my practice. Going to court and fighting for my clients was challenging and rewarding. However, for the majority of family law clients, litigation is not the best way to resolve conflict, and any attorney worth their salt will tell you that. Children get caught in the middle, money is spent on fighting in court rather than on living expenses or college funds, and everyone's life is put on hold for months, sometimes years. When I became an attorney in 2000, I took both litigation and mediation clients, and it has been interesting over the years to compare the two practices. In litigation, while my clients enjoyed "winning", sometimes they lost. Sometimes their relationships with their children were irrevocably changed. And none of my former clients every told me at the end of a case that they would do it all again the same way. In mediation, on the other hand, partners reported high levels of satisfaction. People felt heard, and maintained their self respect in the process. No one was taken advantage of, and people were able to bring their relationship to a close without more pain and upset. Parents were given the power to chose their own parenting plans, rather than a judge or mental health professional telling them what the plan would be. And parties appreciated all the funds that were saved in a collaborative process that wasn't motivated by pain, fear or anger. For all these reasons, I now only provide mediation services. I wish to help people with their family law matters in a way that is supportive of their mental health, financial wellbeing and most importantly, better outcomes for their children. There will be parent-teacher conferences, back to school nights, college, weddings, grandbaby birthdays, and everything in between. Mediation is the best first step to ensuring that even if parties cannot remain together, they remain good co-parents.     

Licensed for 22 years
State CA
Status Active
Acquired 2000
Updated 09/18/2022

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

Contact Dana

Law Office Of Dana L Santos
By Appointment
Berkeley, CA, 94705


4.8 / 5.0
  10 customer reviews
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Posted by Jeff | September 2, 2017
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Expert knowledge and experience, and above the bar advice
I can highly recommend Dana. She helped guide me through my divorce over about 2 to 3 years. My best advice to you is, listen to her and take her suggestions. She knows her stuff, and I would have been much better off if I had followed her advice and wise counsel front the start. Her rates frankly are too low, but good for us, and she is more than fair in her billings. Overall, although divorce is not a good experience, trust Dana to guide you through the legal aspects with intelligence, experience, knowledge and caring.
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Posted by Dan | August 20, 2016
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
My Divorce in Utah
I am going through a very nasty and ugly divorce in Utah with my wife. She left our family and took my two youngest children, while my two oldest refused to go with her. Once in California my wife took out a completely bogus restraining order against me and so I had to hire an attorney in California and found Mrs. Santos. Mrs. Santos was awesome, plain and simple. She worked very hard, but was very careful to try not to spend too much money. She thoroughly researches things, she is easy to talk to, but she is also tough with you when she needs to be in order to best help you from yourself (which in these highly emotive situations is often very much needed). Through Mrs. Santos' help I was able to get my wife to drop her actions in California and now the divorce is proceeding in Utah and is going very well here. I cannot recommend her more highly and without any reservations whatsoever.
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Posted by Brian | August 4, 2016
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
6 Stars
Let me start by saying if I could give a 6 star rating for Dana Santos I would without hesitation. I interviewed well over 20 attorneys before my initial phone call with Dana. I came to know of Dana from secondary referrals while interviewing other attorneys. It was clear that she was highly regarded and well respected in the field, and I needed an attorney who could deal with my very complicated case. In my initial consultation I was very impressed with Dana's intuition about my situation. It was as if Dana knew the other person I was dealing with even though Dana had never met this person. This trend continued throughout my time with Dana on my case. Dana anticipated several actions the other party took well in advance and prepared for it. Dana explained the process of the Family Law system clearly and plainly for me, setting up expectations of the pace of how the system works. It was hard for me to be patient while in such a horrible situation, and there were times when I would second guess or doubt Dana's plan. Dana was very honest with me about the possible outcomes (good and bad) of my case. I admired that she did not sugar coat anything, but was always very compassionate to my situation. Dana explained our plan of action and her rationale for it. Of course as time went on adjustments had to be made, and she was quick to act when needed. Dana's quick thinking was a big part of what led to my case doing a complete 180 in my favor. She blew away the expectations she had set for me and the expectations anybody else around had as well. Aside from the amazing results she achieved, Dana helped me grow as a person throughout my ordeal. The way the case started put me in a highly defensive position, and it was quite stressful for me and my children, and my family. Dana's wisdom and calming presence showed me how take charge of my case and that I could be proactive and effective in bettering the terrible situation I was in. I am sure I called and emailed Dana far more than she would have liked but she always showed compassion and understanding of the immense stress I was under. I will never be able to thank Dana enough for how much she has done for my family and me. I look back at where things were when my life was a parent's worst nightmare to where I am now raising my awesome children. I will never forget how she changed the lives of my family.
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Posted by Mark | November 4, 2015
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
100% Strongly Recommend Dana Santos
Few months ago I had received a court summons notifying me that my daughter's mother was filing for sole physical and legal custody. Being a Disabled Veteran living in Texas I didn't understand how to respond or what my options were at the time. Many law offices were too busy and weren't willing to make the commitment of explaining legal procedure to me and guiding me through the process. Until I found Dana L. Santos this woman was a god send and took the time to explain all my options and returned every call personally and promptly. Dana was able to broker an agreement between us and opened up the channels of communication that not only resolved our issues but left us in a better place in our relationship as parents of our daughter. Initially I was very cautious because I know that lawyers can be costly and ring up bills like Congress. This was not an issue between us and I am very satisfied with the cost of representation and the quality of it, in fact I believe that I ended up on the most beneficial side of hiring Dana. She has an extensive knowledge of Family Law and is capable of illuminating any legal complexity. If you want a Lawyer who will fight for you and represent you with the highest integrity, and ethical standards hire Dana.
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Posted by Jamie | June 26, 2015
Outstanding Attorney
Dana Santos helped me with a difficult child support and custody case. It was never fun going to court, but Dana made the entire process a lot easier. Her sarcasm and wit helped me get through the pain of the situation and helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Dana is professional both in and out of the courtroom. She responds to emails and voicemails quickly and is always respectful. I never felt like Dana was judging me; I felt like Dana and I were a team working to put the pieces of my case together. Dana’s confidence and knowledge of law were vital to my success in the courtroom. Even when I decided to represent myself to save on costs, Dana was an excellent resource for legal advice. I would definitely recommend Dana and wish she still lived in my area!
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Posted by anonymous | March 24, 2015
Greatful to have had such a wonderful
I really appreciated having such a helpful and dedicated lawyer, as as Dana. She was always profesional and always had my best interest in mind. She is extremly knowlagable in her line of work and really gives you the feeling of being in great hands. She is always kind to her clients and does whatever she can to help them. She knows how to get things done and is amazing in the court room.
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Posted by Jody | April 3, 2013
I heartily recommend Dana Santos
Ms Santos represented me in a grueling, hostile divorce proceeding. She always represented my interests in a reasonable, calm and intelligent way, and helped me attain perspective as well.. She completely outmatched and outclassed my husband's arrogant and bellicose attorney; knew what the judge would find reasonable and appropriate , and won my case handily. In the years after she neatly dealt with his nuisance suit trying to stop alimony.
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Posted by Melissa | September 26, 2012
Yes, I recommend Dana Santos.
I retained Ms. Santos for both my Legal Separation (in 2009) and Divorce (early 2012). She worked with me on a timeline that made me comfortable and she never let anything fall through the cracks, always keeping me informed of what was coming next. I had interviewed several divorce attorneys before she was recommended to me. I chose her because she did not flinch when I told her my separation and divorce would be amicable and my ex would not fight me on anything. The other attorneys I had talked to basically rolled their eyes and wanted to start from an aggressive position. I did not want that. Dana understood, although she was very clear that if there came a point when I wanted to change tactics we would change tactics. She trusted me to know my ex and how to navigate that situation and I trusted her he ensure that everything was fair and legal. Would I recommend Dana? Not only would I, but I already have, several times. As I type this she is meeting with and being retained by a colleague who has received horrible legal advice previously and tried to handle her divorce on her own. When she asked me what to do, I said..."You need to talk to my divorce attorney, Dana Santos. She is the best." And she is. I recommend Dana as an expert in any area of family law. I am lucky I was referred to her. There was no one better to have my back during that horrible time in my life.
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Posted by anonymous | September 6, 2012
A Positive Experience
Ms. Santos was my attorney in an annulment proceeding. I found her very knowledgeable and easy to work with. She treated me with respect, responded to my questions in a timely manner and made sure I fully understood each step of the process.
Posted by anonymous | May 19, 2012
Ms. Santos is an aggressive lawyer who can be good if you want to intimidate the other lawyer and your ex. She can be a bad choice if you want to negotiate because she can be rude to your ex for no good reason, which makes negotiation that much harder. She is good if you care about money more than how to work with your ex on a good child custody plan. She's not knowledgeable about things outside family law (didn't know, for example, that it's against the law to take a child out of school for a week for visitation)
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  • Hourly Rates $ 325-325 per hour
Payment methods
Cash, Check, Credit Card


AVVO RATING 9.7 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Associate
  • Whiting, Fallon & Ross
  • 2002 - 2004
  • Intern, Associate Attorney
  • Law Office of Marcia Lassiter
  • 1999 - 2002


  • Golden Gate University, School of Law
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • 2000
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • BA
  • 1994


  • Santa Cruz County Bar Association
  • Member
  • 2014 - Present
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association
  • Editor, Contra Costa Lawyer
  • 2012 - 2012
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association
  • Board of Directors, Director
  • 2008 - 2012
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association
  • Family Law Section Board of Directors, Director
  • 2005 - 2010
  • American Inns of Court, Robert G. McGrath
  • Member
  • 2000 - 2012
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English


  • Specialist, Family Law Since 2008
  • State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization
  • 2008
  • Pro Bono Service
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association
  • 2003
  • Certificate of Appreciation
  • 2001
  • Cert. of Specialization w/ Distinction Public Interest Law
  • Golden Gate University School of Law
  • 2000
  • Am Jur, Trial Advocacy
  • Golden Gate University School of Law
  • 1999
  • Volunteer Appreciation (multiple years)
  • Superior Court of Contra Costa County
  • N/A
View all awards


Speaking Engagements

  • 2012 MCLE Spectacular
  • Social Media, A Lawyer’s Guide
  • 2012

Attorney endorsements

Received (2)
Given (0)
Family Attorney | Mar 25
Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter
"I've known Dana for many years and consider her to be an outstanding attorney. I would recommend her without reservation on any family law matter."
Family Attorney | Mar 24
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Dana is well respected among her colleagues and there's good reason for it. She's kind, smart, thoughtful, knowledgeable and an excellent advocate. Whether representing adults or kids, she's an attorney I endorse."
This attorney hasn't created any attorney endorsements recently on Avvo.

Avvo Contributions

This attorney hasn't created any legal answers in Q&A or legal guides recently on Avvo.

Berkeley Family Lawyer Dana Lynn Santos
Dana Lynn Santos
Family Attorney
Berkeley, CA
Licensed for 22 years