History of the Firm

In 1978, Richard Yrulegui and Jim Emerson formed Emerson & Yrulegui, becoming the first local firm to specialize in workers’ compensation defense. Their first office was in the Helm Building on the Fulton Mall in Fresno, California. Many prominent workers’ compensation defense attorneys practicing in Fresno today began their careers at Emerson & Yrulegui. In 1996, Emerson & Yrulegui hired Steve Roberts, a promising young attorney from Sacramento, who had recently graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law. Mr. Roberts demonstrated an acute talent in workers’ compensation defense early in his career, and he continued to hone those skills under Richard Yrulegui.

In 2009, Joseph Yrulegui joined the firm as an associate attorney after graduating from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. Mr. Yrulegui was born and raised in Fresno, and after studying at UC Davis and McGeorge, he returned to Fresno to practice law. Mr. Yrulegui has been around workers’ compensation to some extent for most of his life. In high school, Mr. Yrulegui spent his summers working in the office and assisting in any way he could. After returning to Fresno and joining the firm, Mr. Yrulegui cherished the time he could spend with his father and mother, both professionally and personally, absorbing as much knowledge as possible, about not only workers’ compensation defense, but also the administrative side of running a business. Mr. Yrulegui’s mother, Karen Dorian, is what many consider the “heart” of the firm and is undoubtedly responsible for much of its success.

In 2013, after 41 years of practicing workers’ compensation defense, Richard Yrulegui took a much-earned retirement.

With a mutual vision of how workers’ compensation should be practiced, with integrity and honesty, in 2013 Mr. Roberts and Mr. Yrulegui assumed control of the firm, became business partners and formed Yrulegui & Roberts. In their brief time together, the firm has expanded to fifteen attorneys with three offices from Sacramento to Bakersfield. The firm is in a constant state of attempted betterment, with a focus on family, the happiness of its employees and the pursuit of justice for its valued clients.

Steve and Joe place a particular focus on the firm’s relationships with its clients. Many of the firm’s clients are not just colleagues but friends. Steve and Joe consider themselves fortunate to work with people they consider friends. Coupled with employees that Steve and Joe consider family, the honor of guiding Yrulegui & Roberts into the future is theirs.

Fresno Office


Stephen B. Roberts

Senior Partner


Joseph C. Yrulegui

Senior Partner


Nicholas J. Perry



Nicole D. Rothford

Associate Attorney


Melissa J. Noble

Associate Attorney


Shamyl K. Siddiqi

Associate Attorney


Ann E. Walker

Associate Attorney


Michelle N. Ritchie

Associate Attorney


Joseph A. Igoa

Of Counsel

Bakersfield Office


John A. Robinson

Managing Partner


“Vito” Michael E. Mazzei II

Associate Attorney


Helen Jiang

Associate Attorney


Russell Rascati

Associate Attorney

Sacramento Office


 Danny Leu

Managing Attorney


Ricky Halladay

Associate Attorney

Supporting Staff

Holly Cooke Photo


Holly Cooke



Carla Bell

Paralegal/Bakersfield Administrator

Karen Dorian


Karen Dorian

Accounting Manager