Practice and Industry Groups

Denise Cotter Villani

Shareholder Dallas

Denise Cotter Villani is a shareholder in Ogletree Deakins’ Dallas office. Ms. Villani is licensed in both Texas and Oklahoma. She began her legal career with Crowe & Dunlevy in Oklahoma City in 1983, joined the Dallas firm of Thompson and Knight in 1989 and helped open Ogletree's Dallas office in 2000.

Ms. Villani devotes her practice to helping employers with employment related disputes, conducting investigations, providing counseling and handling disputes in litigation and arbitration. She has personally conducted dozens of investigations, including investigations involving employee allegations of misconduct by company executives and systemic discrimination. She has tried numerous cases by herself or as first chair and has managed and resolved or taken to hearing dozens of employment arbitrations.

Ms. Villani brings a medical background to her practice. She worked as a Medical Technologist MT (ASCP) at Oklahoma City's Health Sciences Center while attending law school at night on an academic scholarship. As a result of her medical background, Ms. Villani has developed expertise in dealing with disability claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and in cases involving claims of emotional distress. She regularly works with psychologists and psychiatrists in evaluating plaintiffs' claims for emotional distress damages.


Ms. Villani has tried and obtained complete defense verdicts in cases involving claims of age, race and sex discrimination, sexual harassment, discriminatory failure to promote, retaliation, unfair competition and breach of a covenant not to compete. She has obtained summary judgment in numerous disability, race, age and sex discrimination cases and in cases involving allegations of sexual harassment. She has also successfully defended cases on appeal in oral arguments before the Fifth, Sixth and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeal. She has had similar success in arbitration and has successfully obtained arbitration awards on claims of race, age and sex discrimination and has successfully defended appeals of the defense awards obtained in arbitration.

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • Texas Bar Association (Employment Law Section)
  • Oklahoma Bar Association
  • Fifth and Tenth Circuit Bar Associations


  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''HIV And The Workplace: The Latest Disability, Privacy And OSHA Concerns'' - Chicago - May 13, 2011
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - ''Romance in the Digital Age—High Risk and High Liability'' - Austin - October 01, 2010
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''When Dress Codes and Style Collide – A Strategy for Employers'' - Las Vegas - May 05, 2010
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Caregiver Discrimination – The Challenges for Employers'' - Miami - May 08, 2009
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Avoiding Retaliation Claims – The Chronically Complaining Employee'' - Miami - May 07, 2009
  • Ogletree Deakins Webinar - ''Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations: A Step-by-Step Guide'' - January 22, 2009
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - ''What’s Considered to be Harassment? More Every Day'' - Austin - October 03, 2008
  • University of Texas School of Law Continuing Legal Education Program - ''The Inexact Science of Employee Leaves of Absence'' - Austin - May 29, 2008
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Internal Affairs – New Rulings Force Employers to Evaluate Office Romance Policies'' - Atlanta - May 11, 2006
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - ''Hiring Is Back in Vogue – Do You Remember All the Pitfalls'' - Austin - October 01, 2004


Published Works


Our Insights


Media Quotes

May 06, 2013 - Law360 - "Q & A With Ogletree's Denise Cotter Villani"