All through luncheons and dinner events, john w. Daniels jr., the chairman of quarles & brady, is notorious for excusing himself from his table, making his way across the room, and networking and catching up with old buddies. He hardly ever returns to his seat. His food commonly is going cold. “we continually have a shaggy dog story approximately whether we have to even have a seat for john at our desk,” says ann murphy, member of quarles & brady’s govt committee and managing accomplice of its milwaukee firm. “we’ve stated we will keep cash on john because we don’t have to shop for a meal for him.” it’s no longer simply luncheons, either. For the past 4 years, daniels, 62, has made it his business to get out of his chair and out of the office. He hits the road and meets with customers and ceos. This past spring he made the rounds at company offices in arizona, florida, madison and chicago to rally colleagues for his or her annual meetings. For the reason that daniels arrived in 1974, the firm has grown greater than fivefold: from 80 to 450 legal professionals. But for all this travel, daniels could be very a lot rooted in milwaukee, a town in which his circle of relatives’s call is synonymous with civic involvement. Proof of daniels’ effect is throughout milwaukee: from the downtown grand road revitalization venture he helped prepare, to the men & ladies club that bears his call, to the annual fellowship open charity golfing tournament that’s one of the summer season’s most up to date tickets. That’s one of the motives he signed up with quarles & brady inside the first vicinity. “i thought, ‘if i visit this company, i cannot handiest practice regulation but i'm able to have an effect at the community,’” he says. “that’s what bought me on quarles & brady. And it’s turned out to be a outstanding fit.” daniels, who majored in business in university, thinks and talks like a businessman. He uses business-like metrics. He’s instituted, for example, patron value standards: a gadget to help report and meet customers’ expectations by using permitting them to examine the company’s performance. “our enterprise making plans model is more of the character of what the great corporate agencies do,” he says. Daniels also lets staff and colleagues know how critical they're. “you research some thing from all people. My motto is: ‘every body counts, every day,’ and i virtually mean that. In the nice corporations, anyone is empowered.” if that sounds positive, nicely, that’s daniels. His own existence, he says, is reason enough to be hopeful. “i frequently inform people that i commenced school in a legally segregated college and finished at harvard regulation college,” he says. “that is certainly my view of the sector: matters can alternate; human beings can alternate and make matters show up.” the primary big exchange for daniels happened whilst his dad and mom moved to milwaukee from birmingham, ala., in the mid-fifties, in search of higher opportunities and extra racial tolerance. They left simply earlier than the civil rights motion took preserve there. His maternal grandfather, a baptist minister who stayed at the back of, turned into inside the thick of it. “we had a eager interest in seeing it spread and found it as many others did—on tv,” he says. His father labored for the navy simply across the nation line in illinois while his mother become a social worker’s aide. He and his seven siblings went to broadly speaking white colleges. After graduating from high school in 1966, daniels in short considered medicine, however natural chemistry simply didn’t click on for him. As an alternative he studied enterprise at north crucial university in naperville, sick., and educational coverage at the college of wisconsin–madison, where he supposed to pursue a ph. D. “a lot of my own family have been worried in education,” he says. “in my generation, that was some thing you aspired to be.” it turned into at madison that he met several harvard college students who were running on urban training reform, a subject that intrigued him. So daniels implemented to harvard, intending to mix a regulation diploma along with his ph. D., and do comparable paintings. But going to law college and writing a dissertation at the identical time become an excessive amount of to handle. He selected regulation. Daniels married irma hall, additionally of milwaukee, at some point of his first yr of regulation college. (they have got youngsters, john, 32, a trainer and generation specialist, and inez, 20, a junior at spelman college. Their 2-year-antique grandson is called john daniels iv.) he also met a few professors who would help form his profession. He took a category on exertions law from archibald cox, who might quickly turn out to be the primary special prosecutor at some stage in the watergate scandal, and he recalls sooner or later asking cox for assist. “[cox] sat there with me for an hour and began speakme approximately the implication of exertions regulation,” he says. “he gave me all this interest.” then there has been mort zuckerman, former writer of new york every day information and editor-in-chief of u. S. News & international file. “he taught a direction on real property development, and that i simply couldn’t get enough of it,” daniels says. “it changed into a course with 20 to twenty-five human beings, which truly allowed you to see the possibilities.” graduating with a harvard regulation diploma in 1974, daniels had his pick of prestigious companies in foremost cities. But his wife and family had been rooted in milwaukee. The query turned into: which firm? At some point of a summer season destroy, while clerking for criminal movement of wisconsin, a colleague invited him to lunch with mike bolger, an attorney and recruiter for quarles & brady. “i look for individuals who are clever,” says bolger, who later left the company to serve as president and ceo of the medical university of wisconsin. “you need to have that grey be counted to paintings at a massive regulation firm. You need to be nicely rounded, however no longer a nerd who spends all his time within the regulation library.” the lunch, and next meetings, went nicely. “we have been thinking about him as both a person and a destiny attorney,” bolger says. “we pointed out making milwaukee a better location, approximately having an impact. He wanted to present his time and talent to that.” daniels become the primary african-american on staff. “there had been no minorities. I assume that become quite lots actual of many law firms at that factor,” daniels says. “i used to be never that uncomfortable with that a part of it. I knew i ought to do the paintings. Perhaps i used to be overconfident. However i felt i should do the work. Maneuvering through the alternative part of it, properly, that’s existence. Life is not reliable.” as a young associate he did both hard work regulation and actual estate regulation, but the latter received out. “i love doing offers,” he says. “i just like getting human beings collectively, identifying how to align the pursuits of the events, figuring out the way to make something appear while the events aren’t always at the identical point.” the ones deals encompass, in 1982, the introduction of the milwaukee grand street mall, a public/non-public redevelopment to revitalize the downtown region, to, in daniels’ words, “take again a downtown that, frankly, [was suffering] the fate of many downtowns.” daniels labored with artwork laun in representing the rouse business enterprise, which specialised in city redevelopment tasks and purchasing department stores. The lawyers needed to negotiate deals to collect blocks of one at a time owned residences, lots of which had been underneath antiquated floor leases. “here you had a historic property that turned into the cornerstone of milwaukee being converted to rejuvenate city retail, and it added in all the portions of what i like: the finance, the public zone, creating something [to] notably trade the panorama of the network,” daniels says. “it represented an possibility for me to see how you prepare a deal that’s very complicated. The whole component took approximately three to four years.” he additionally labored on offers regarding the midwest airways center and the bradley center. Within the former, he represented the property proprietor whose land sat smack in the center of the proposed venture. The property became situation to condemnation complaints to permit construction to go through, and daniels says he negotiated a nice payout for his purchaser. “if i were in a deal, he’d be the man i’d want on my facet,” says tim sheehy, president of the metropolitan milwaukee association of trade, who recruited daniels to serve on his board. “he’s very capable in a quiet manner. He'll outwork you, outsmart you and outhustle you.” julia taylor, president of the extra milwaukee committee, an agency made up of place enterprise leaders running to enhance the cultural and monetary base of the metropolis, provides, “john is quite quiet in a few approaches about what he’s engaged in. You notice john’s fingerprints over everything, however unless you understand he did it, you wouldn’t realize about it from him.” ten years ago, for instance, daniels and his colleagues have been lamenting negative graduation prices in milwaukee’s faculties. In order that they organized a golfing event to raise cash for network-based companies that paintings with needy youngsters. Held every august at silver spring golfing & ceremonial dinner center in menomonee falls, the fellowship open now raises greater than $seventy five,000 per year for a variety of companies, and includes a mentoring application for young human beings interested in enterprise. “after i see the ones children,” daniels says, “and that i see those kids contact humans they may not in any other case contact, and that i see that maybe i'm able to encourage humans, that makes it really worth it.” that type of involvement is what the daniels circle of relatives is all approximately. “the daniels name is very widely known in milwaukee,” says taylor. “it’s a logo of civic involvement in milwaukee, of giving lower back.” along with his brother, bishop sedgwick daniels, non secular chief of holy redeemer institutional church of god in christ, daniels worked on a number of projects to help revitalize his neighborhood, including housing and training tasks. There was also a network center. It was named for their mother: the mother kathryn daniels conference middle for community empowerment and own family reunification. Daniels is also a associate and confidante to his sister, valerie daniels-carter, president of v & j foods, one of the the nation’s biggest minority-owned franchise food organizations. She’s now considered one of the kingdom’s leading african-american women entrepreneurs, and daniels helped her with startup cash. He’s additionally chairman of the board at v & j. “she honestly runs the business. I’m older than she is, so i’m sort of an adviser,” he says. “it’s a effect of being part of a family that does a lot of stuff together. You just assist each other.” indeed, for so long as absolutely everyone can keep in mind, every sunday after church, the daniels own family and a few friends have gotten collectively for dinner. It’s one meal at which daniels doesn’t paintings the room whilst his food grows bloodless. “i wouldn’t pass over it,” he says. “that lifestyle goes manner returned to my grandfather.” daniels-carter hosts. “i tell all and sundry to leave your feelings on the door. We speak about the whole lot from religion to politics to circle of relatives matters,” she says. “our circle of relatives is cut up between republicans and democrats. I’m nonpartisan. I’m usually in the middle. I need anyone to be buddies.” “the entirety is so speedy-paced now, anybody has pressures on them all through the week and [it’s good to have] some thing you could look forward to, to loosen up,” daniels says. “we try to depart the enterprise part of it [at the door] as a good deal as we are able to. I mean you've got six days of doing commercial enterprise. However definitely we speak approximately stuff to enhance the network.” daniels-carter calls this “a part of the legacy we all have agreed upon. To make the town better, you have to reinvest in the city.” she provides of her brother, “he's so engaged in matters that he doesn’t are trying to find to be recognized and he doesn’t seek publicity. John is passionate. He’s pushed and he’s very compassionate in phrases of investing in people.” that’s a part of the motive why, no matter his many connections, political workplace doesn’t hobby daniels. He believes he can be more effective as a personal person. “due to my history as a lawyer and a business individual, and my song report of getting matters executed, if i am getting engaged in some thing, the opportunities of this or that occurring are superb,” he says.