Gregory Tenhoff, Partner

Gregory C. Tenhoff is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice group and a member of the Cooley Litigation department. He joined the Firm in 1995 and is resident in the Palo Alto office.

Mr. Tenhoff's practice is devoted to the full range of issues arising from the relationship between corporate clients and the individuals who provide services to them, including:

  • Counseling and assisting companies in assessing the trade secret, contractual, and other risks associated with the potential hiring of executives and other employees from competitive entities, and successfully defending company clients in litigation which arises from such hiring;
  • The strategic development, negotiation, and drafting of complex agreements that form the service relationship, such as executive employment agreements, proprietary information and assignment of inventions agreements, noncompetition agreements, and independent contractor arrangements;
  • Counseling and assisting employers through difficult issues that arise during the relationship, including handling sensitive and complex whistleblower allegations and investigations; conducting investigations of employee misconduct such as trade secret theft; responding to allegations of unlawful discrimination or harassment; handling complex employee issues arising from company mergers and acquisitions; and establishing practical, litigation-tested employment policies and procedures to govern the relationship;
  • Assessing the risks associated with terminating the employment or independent contractor relationship including handling difficult and sensitive executive terminations, as well as the negotiation and drafting of complex and multi-faceted separation agreements;
  • Using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation and other forms of settlement negotiations to resolve disputes with service providers when appropriate;
  • Litigating disputes with current and former service providers on claims involving breach of contract; the misappropriation of trade secrets (and related claims); employee raiding and noncompete agreements; discrimination; harassment; wrongful termination in violation of public policy (including whistleblower claims); wage and hour disputes (including class action cases); and stock and stock option disputes.

Mr. Tenhoff has extensive litigation and trial experience. He has successfully represented clients in federal and state courts throughout the United States, in arbitration proceedings, and before numerous state and federal agencies (including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing). He has successfully obtained restraining orders and other civil and criminal remedies against departed employees for trade secret theft, and has successfully defended other clients against civil trade secret misappropriation claims. During a portion of 1997, Mr. Tenhoff served as a Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County where he tried criminal cases and conducted felony preliminary hearings. In conjunction with the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office, he currently represents indigent clients accused of felony crimes in motion to suppress hearings, preliminary hearings, and jury trials. He also supervises the Firm's pro bono work with the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office.

Mr. Tenhoff has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of industries and technologies including semiconductors, electronic hardware, software, telecommunications and broadband services, biotechnology, medical devices, and many other industries. He regularly speaks on issues in his practice area at client conferences and before professional organizations. He has been a guest lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business on discrimination and harassment law, he has guest-lectured at Santa Clara University Law School, and he routinely conducts training for clients on a wide variety of employment issues. He is an AV-rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell (the highest possible rating) and has been regularly recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America and as a California Super Lawyer in the Labor and Employment field.

Mr. Tenhoff obtained his law degree in 1991 from the University of Southern California Law Center, where he graduated second in his class, and was awarded the Order of the Coif and the American Board of Trial Advocates Award. He was a member of the Southern California Law Review staff. During law school, he externed for the Honorable Richard A. Gadbois of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. He graduated summa cum laude from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a degree in Business Administration. 

Prior to attending law school, Mr. Tenhoff worked for Hughes Aircraft Company in El Segundo, California, where he negotiated and administered major contracts for satellite subassemblies. He also has served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard.


  • University of Southern California Law School
    JD, 1991, Order of the Coif
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
    BS, Business Administration, 1984, summa cum laude

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California

Bar Admissions

  • California


  • American Bar Association
Palo Alto
3175 Hanover Street
Palo Alto, California 94304-1130

Phone: +1 650 843 5054
Fax: +1 650 849 7400
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