John Daniels MS’72

John Daniels MS’72John Daniels is the chair emeritus at Quarles & Brady, a national law firm, and serves as a strategic business adviser to many of the firm’s largest clients. As chair, he grew the firm significantly during the worst downturn since the Great Depression, expanding its ranks of attorneys and adding new locations and national practice specialties.

A nationally recognized expert in real estate and business law, Daniels has been involved in some of the nation’s most complex real estate redevelopment projects. He is the former national president of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and has represented major corporations such as General Electric, Kraft Foods, and Xerox. He has been named one of the “50 most influential diverse attorneys in America” by the National Bar Association, and one of the “100 Managing Partners You Need to Know” by Lawdragon.

After receiving his BA from North Central College, Daniels earned his MS in Education from UW–Madison and his JD from Harvard University. His bio lists more than two dozen awards, including many that reflect his lifelong commitment to diversity and inclusion. “I started school in a legally segregated school in Birmingham, Alabama, and finished at Harvard Law School,” he told Wisconsin Super Lawyers in 2010. “This is really my view of the world: Things can change; people can change and make things happen.” Daniels was the first African American lawyer in the United States to start as an associate in a major law firm and become chairman.

Over the years, he has been a major force for civic good in Milwaukee. He has worked as lead lawyer on many signature downtown projects. He also helped organize an annual golf tournament, the Fellowship Open, that raises money to help children in need, and he has worked with his brother, a Milwaukee clergyman, on a number of community housing and education projects.

Daniels has served on numerous boards of directors, including the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, BMO Harris, M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank, and V&J Foods, Inc. He served as chair of the board of several key Wisconsin organizations, including The Greater Milwaukee Committee, Aurora Health Care, Inc., and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.