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John Daniels Jr.

Living Legends
Chair emeritus
Quarles & Brady  |  Milwaukee

John Daniels Jr. joined Quarles & Brady LLP in 1974, becoming the first African American employee hired by the Milwaukee-based law firm. Daniels was named partner at Quarles in 1981 and joined its management committee in 1994.

In 2007, he was named chairman and managing partner and went on to lead the firm through the Great Recession. Amid economic headwinds, Quarles managed to add new lawyers and locations across the firm under his leadership. He is credited with “fundamentally transforming Quarles from its traditional legal industry structure to a model of a 21st-century professional services business,” according to a company bio.

A former national president of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, he’s counted corporate household names among his clients, including General Electric, Kraft Foods and Xerox. As chair emeritus, he continues to serve as a strategic business advisor to many of the firm’s major clients.

Daniels has been a major player in Milwaukee civic life for decades. An advocate for high-quality education, Daniel founded the MKE Fellows program in 2011 to provide scholarships and mentorship for the young men who have demonstrated academic talent. His board service has focused primarily on the areas of education, financial services, health care and real estate. He has chaired the boards of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Advocate Aurora Health and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

Education: Bachelor’s, North Central College; master’s, University of Wisconsin-Madison; J.D., Harvard Law School

What two business leaders would you want to have dinner with: “Jamie Dimon (CEO of JPMorgan Chase) because he has an enormous capacity for seeing ahead of the curve and he had experiences in his career where he had to learn from a challenge. Ken Chenault, former CEO of American Express and a former law school classmate of mine. Not only did he do an incredible job at American Express, but in the second phase of his career, he’s had a major impact on the development of incredible new companies.”

Fun fact: “The fact that I’m from Alabama and have put up with Wisconsin winters for almost 50 years.”

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