Dawn Newton Partner (510) 451-3300 dnewton@donahue.com Download vCard LinkedIn

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Dawn Newton is a business attorney whose practice focuses on franchise law, intellectual property, and data privacy. She is certified as a legal specialist in franchise and distribution law by the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California.

As a franchise law expert, Dawn represents a broad spectrum of franchised businesses, particularly restaurants and retail concepts, and she serves as outside general counsel for several. Many of her clients’ concepts are targeted to children, including tutoring, daycare, and supplemental education. Her experience includes:

  • Managing the regulatory and compliance work of mature and expanding franchise systems
  • Structuring new franchise systems for start-up franchisors, including drafting Franchise Disclosure Documents (FDDs), franchise agreements, area development agreements, and managing registrations and exemptions.
  • Assisting businesses with resolving complex franchise law violation situations

For businesses or attorneys subject to a California DBO requirement to obtain remedial franchise compliance training, she offers a comprehensive full-day training which meets DBO standards.

In addition to her franchise practice, Dawn helps clients safeguard and preserve their intellectual property, such as:

  • Trademark and copyright prosecution and licensing
  • Creating and registering new marks and expanding marks internationally
  • Developing strategies to protect and enhance intellectual property
  • Policing and responding to allegations of infringement
  • Advising on issues raised by new forms of media

Dawn also advises clients regarding data privacy issues, including compliance with various privacy and security laws including CCPA, GDPR, COPPA, CalOPPA, CAN-SPAM, and more. Her experience includes responding to data breaches, creating compliance plans, and vendor management.

Professional & Community Affiliations

  • Member, American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, 2004-Present
  • Annual Meeting Co-Chair, American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, 2017
  • Member, Governing Committee, American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, 2015-Present
  • Member, International Franchise Association, 2015-Present
  • Chair and Commissioner, Franchise and Distribution Law Advisory Commission, Board of Legal Specialization, State Bar of California, 2008-2015
  • Chair, Intellectual Property Section, Alameda County Bar Association, 2011-2013
  • Member, Franchise and Business Opportunity Advisory Committee, North American Securities Administrators Association, 2022


  • Listed, Legal Eagles, Franchise Times, 2022, 2024
  • Listed, Who's Who Legal: Franchise, 2017-2021
  • Named, The Best Lawyers in America© – Franchising, Best Lawyers, 2013-2022
  • Named, Rising Star, Northern California Super Lawyers, 2010
  • Awarded, AV® Preeminent™ (5.0 out of 5) peer-review rated, Martindale-Hubbell™
  • Recipient, Future Leader Award, Forum on Franchising, American Bar Association, 2010

Past Articles/News


Recent Speaking Engagements

September 18, 2024 | Mexico City, Mexico
Global trends for the cannabis market: new frontiers and opportunities
International Bar Association

April 19, 2023 | Santa Monica, CA
2023 Cannabis IP Law Conference
California Lawyers Association

December 01, 2022 | New Orleans, LA
NASAA 2022 Franchise and Business Opportunities Training
NASAA (North American Securities Administrators Association)

October 14, 2021 | Atlanta, GA
ABA’s 44th Forum on Franchising
American Bar Association Forum on Franchising

October 27, 2020 | Webinar
ABA’s 43rd Forum on Franchising
American Bar Association Forum on Franchising

November 15, 2019 | Las Vegas, NV
CLA 44th Annual Intellectual Property Law Section Institute
California Lawyers Association

October 17, 2019 | Denver, CO
ABA’s 42nd Forum on Franchising
American Bar Association Forum on Franchising

October 07, 2019 | Walnut Creek, CA
GDPR and CCPA: Consumer-Focused Privacy Laws And Their Impact
Contra Costa County Bar Association

May 06, 2019 | Washington D.C., DC
IFA’s 52nd Legal Symposium
International Franchise Association (IFA)

Past Speaking Engagements

  • Preparing for the California Consumer Privacy Act, January 24, 2019, Oakland, CA
  • ABA’s 41st Forum on Franchising, American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, October 10, 2018, Nashville, TN
  • ABA’s 40th Annual Forum on Franchising, American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, October 18, 2017, Palm Dessert, CA
  • Fundamentals of Franchising, American Bar Association’s Forum on Franchising, November 02, 2016, Miami, Florida
  • The Forgotten Asset: Copyright Law for Estate Planners, East Bay Estate Planning Council, September 12, 2016, Oakland, California
  • The Forgotten Asset: Copyright Law for Estate Planners, Bar Association of San Francisco, November 17, 2015, San Francisco, California
  • What You Need to Know About Franchising Your Business, November 10, 2015, Oakland, California
  • Fundamentals 201: Drafting the Six Most Challenging Items in the FDD, Forum on Franchising – American Bar Association, October 15-16, 2015, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Nationalizing Your Brand, 2015 Cannabis Business Summit, National Cannabis Industry Association, June 28, 2015, Denver, Colorado
  • Handling Defaults and Terminations, 48th Annual Legal Symposium, International Franchise Association, May 5, 2015, Chicago, Illinois
  • Franchising v. Licensing, National Cannabis Bar Association, February 12, 2015, San Francisco, California
  • Advanced Disclosure Issues, Forum on Franchising – American Bar Association, 2013, Orlando, Florida
  • Best Practices for Establishing a Franchise Compliance Program,  Forum on Franchising – American Bar Association, 2010, San Diego, California