Friend of the University Award
JOHN W. DANIELS, JR.
Four words define the worldview of attorney John Daniels, Jr.: Everybody counts, every day.
“I repeat them as often as possible around my firm,” says John, chairman of Quarles & Brady LLP. “Those words embody my personal philosophy and leadership style, serving to remind me — hopefully as well as others — that remaining humble and helpful results in a lot more progress than many other attributes.” John, a graduate of Harvard Law School, spent his early childhood just blocks away from the Marquette campus.
In February 2012, John was awarded with the 2012 Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association. In 2008, the National Law Journal selected John as one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.” He’s the only Wisconsin attorney on that list. It’s a distinction — and one of many — that sets John apart. He was listed in the 2009 and ’10 Business Journal of Milwaukee Power Book, was named 2009 “Lawyer of the Year” by the Milwaukee Bar Association, received the 2008 “Leadership Award” from the National Bar Association, and was identified as one of 2008’s “100 Managing Partners You Need to Know” by Lawdragon. He is the former national president of the prestigious American College of Real Estate Lawyers.
Speaking of people to know, many Marquette students are lucky enough to know how generous John is. That’s because he’s a stalwart supporter of the university’s Urban Scholars program, which provides full-tuition awards to academically promising students from disadvantaged backgrounds in Milwaukee-area high schools and Cristo Rey High School in Chicago.
“I learned a long time ago that success is dependent on circumstance, measured by individual aspirations and continuous progress toward them,” he says. “Thus, having an internal compass with which to define success is essential.”
“I have the remarkable advantage of working in a profession,” says John, “where the results of one’s efforts can be visibly reflected in improved opportunities for clients. For me, the ability to work with people to solve complex issues is extremely rewarding.”
He also has discovered that success is not a destination but a journey. Part of his journey has been leading Quarles & Brady through a fundamental transformation, shifting from the traditional operational model — upon which most major law firms are built — to a client-centric, business-minded organization. This fundamental cultural shift resulted in significant growth, despite having faced certain obstacles.
“Despite having assumed my position during the most difficult economic environment in nearly a century,” says John, “I find great pleasure in serving as chairman of a national law firm. Because my firm has called on me to create a new strategy for success that requires absolute commitment and intense focus around value, specifically as defined by each individual client.”
Today, thanks to John’s leadership, Quarles & Brady is in a position of industry prominence as a firm that values diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Summing up his career, John says, “A commitment to hard work and an intense passion and dedication to people … life is best lived with a proper balance of these two ideals.”