Outside the Office
Dan is an avid bicyclist and outdoorsman, who enjoys backpacking, skiing, fishing and pheasant hunting. He prefers to read nonfiction about adventure, history, sociology and science. Dan also has had a lifelong relationship with piano, guitar and vocal music, and briefly performed with the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society, both locally and in England. Dan is married to Anna Marie Jackson Laurence. They have two children and a Labrador retriever.
Over 30 years of law practice, my hallmarks – curiosity, craft and compassion – have become my clients’ advantage.
Growing up with academic parents made me crave escape to the “real world”, to test the ideas they debated with us every night at dinner.. I loved exploring outdoors, building model airplanes and doing experiments. I studied the shapes of machines, bodies, plants and molecules. I worshiped the mechanical dream machine that was my bike. I was curious to know how things worked. I became really excited when I could explain it to someone. I also sang and acted.
Packing my mind with facts early in life got me a generous academic scholarship to the University of Chicago.
When college was over, I didn’t want more school; not yet. I wanted to learn more in the “real” world. I began working for a defense contractor. My job was to keep nuclear weapons system costs in check. This meant negotiating designs, costs and prices three ways with suppliers, internal program managers and engineers, and the government to come up with a management analysis that went all the way to the White House commission on the subject. Success there led the company to assign me to a kind of defense department “startup” group working on a new military Space Shuttle mission. But then the shuttle Challenger tragically exploded. Our shuttle was next to go but shut down. I was stunned. I asked my coworkers and friends, “What do you think I should do?” More than one said, “You? Law school!”
So [After college and two years working in aerospace,] I went to the University of Michigan Law School. And I loved it. The “aha” moment came when I joined the Law School’s legal aid clinic. Having real people as clients demonstrated the power that legal representation and advice has to better someone else’s life. Later, I went to night law school, too, so I could work full time during a semester for the prosecutor in Detroit. There I worked on many heartbreaking cases. At the end, I was given two assault felonies to take to trial by myself as a legal intern. I was happily surprised when both ended in conviction. In some small way, the community was safer. And, I discovered, a good argument is like a song crafted from facts; something one of my legal mentors would years later actually say to reassure me before I walked into the court on a difficult case, which we won.
On graduation, I clerked in Detroit for a federal judge. That led to a job in a big firm where my first thankless assignment was to be join the mass of defense attorneys on the Exxon Valdez disaster. Seeking greater responsibility and engagement, I left for a smaller firm. There, I was reunited with my curiosity for machines, representing mostly product manufacturers. I tried and settled air crash, automotive and industrial equipment lawsuits, as well as some business disputes, became a partner and stayed for 13 years. The work was sophisticated, and I developed a keen sense of how corporate defense lawyers think.
While the work was intellectually enjoyable, I found it left a spiritual hole. Where was the compassion? My soul leapt when I found ways to represent “real people” in smaller matters. I represented a convent in a will contest trial that ended well for them. A hand squeeze from a nun is a terrific bonus on a legal fee of any size. I settled a claim against a bus company that had injured a homeless woman. Though she needed the money to eat and stay out of the rain, she spent some of it on a bottle of wine and thank you card for me; something no corporate client had ever done.
In 2006, I left that defense practice and started my own firm, where I started representing individuals.
In 2014, I joined this legendary firm. Individually and together with others, I am proud to say that I have recovered and helped to recover millions of dollars in compensation that has significantly benefitted many lives: Product defects in aircraft, cars, watercraft, and industrial machines have been exposed and the victims of those defects can now meet their medical and life care needs. Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians have held governments accountable to make roads and railroads safer. Insurers have been made to pay the benefits they owe. Victims of property hazards, rape, other terrible assaults and medical malpractice have received a measure of justice. Children who would not otherwise have had a chance due to injury to themselves or loss of a parent are getting much-needed therapies and going to college.
Curiosity, craft and compassion. It’s a mix that works for me and my clients.
+ Memberships & Leadership
- Washington State Bar Association
- Washington State Association for Justice, Eagle Member
- American Association for Justice; Vice Chair Product Liability Section, Member Aviation & Railroad Sections, Member Attorneys Information Exchange Group (AIEG)
- King County Bar Association (Past Chair, Aviation and Professionalism Committees)
- Snohomish County Bar Association
- Cascade Bicycle Club
+ Awards & Achievements
- Law Clerk, Hon. John Feikens, United States District Court (E.D. Mich.) 1989-90
- Articles Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law, Volume 10
- Book Award, Writing & Advocacy, University of Michigan Law School, 1987
- National Merit Scholar, University of Chicago, 1980-1984
- Chapter Author: Washington Civil Procedure Deskbook, Washington State Bar Association, 2014 edition, 2001 edition & 1996 update
- Frequent presenter at legal education seminars
- Rated “AV” by Martindale Hubbell since 1999
- University of Michigan, J.D., 1989
- University of Chicago, B.A., American History, 1984