John W. Daniels, Chair Emeritus


John W. Daniels Jr. is not only a national real estate and business expert with an enviable client list of national corporate household names, he is chair emeritus of Quarles & Brady, a strategic business advisor to many of the firm’s largest clients, a recurrently honored champion of diversity and inclusion, a much sought-after thought leader on multiple topics, a widely recognized pillar of the community, an active agent of organizational and civic change, and a crusader for high-quality education and access to it. He grew the firm impressively during the worst economy since the Great Depression, expanding its ranks of attorneys and adding new locations and national practice specialties in spite of the downturn, fundamentally transforming Quarles from its traditional legal industry structure to a model of a 21st-century professional services business.

Formerly the national president of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, John has established a remarkable career in the practice of real estate law, representing national, regional, local, and governmental owners and investors, and playing a significant role in some of the most complex real estate redevelopment projects in the United States. For his legal accomplishments, he has been called one of “the 50 most influential diverse attorneys in America” by the National Bar Association and one of “100 Managing Partners You Need to Know” by Lawdragon, among myriad other acknowledgements of his leadership and influence. He has been honored not only for his legal leadership but for his entrepreneurialism, his spirit of excellence in the pursuit of racial justice, and his devotion to education.

John’s personal motto, which has become a core firm value, is, “Everybody counts, every day,” and that philosophy invigorates everything with which he is involved. He is driven by a powerful sense of fairness, and he believes there are few problems that cannot be solved through objective, reasoned persistence, pursued in good faith. He’s an imaginative problem solver, a uniquely critical thinker, a voice of wisdom and long experience, a connector of power players, and a fully tested leader. Depend on him to make big things happen.

Education and Honors

  • Harvard Law School (J.D., 1974)
  • University of Wisconsin (M.S., 1972)
  • North Central College (B.A., 1969)

Professional and Civic Activities

  • Advocate Aurora Health, board chairman
  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers, past national president
  • Chicago United, board of directors, corporate secretary
  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, former board of directors
  • Chicago Sinfonietta's "Yo-Yo Ma Salutes Maestro Paul Freeman," co-chair, 2011
  • American Bar Association, past national vice president, Law Students Division
  • Greater Milwaukee Committee, past chairman of board
  • Greater Milwaukee Foundation, past chair of the board of directors
  • Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, past director
  • Ralph Evinrude Foundation, director
  • Medical College of Wisconsin, director emeritus
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, past director
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Milwaukee, past director
  • Harris Financial Corporation, board of directors
  • V&J Foods, Inc., director

Professional Recognition

  • Recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Legacy Award, Advocate Aurora Health (2020)
  • Selected for inclusion in the Wisconsin Super Lawyers® (2019, 2021: Real Estate)
  • Recipient of the Driven to Achieve Award, Donald Driver Foundation (2018)
  • Recipient of the William C. Frye Award, Greater Milwaukee Foundation (2017)
  • Named to Savoy Magazine’s 2016 Most Influential Black Corporate Directors
  • Recipient of the Badger of the Year Award, Wisconsin Alumni Association (2016)
  • Recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Wisconsin Alumni Association (2016)
  • Named a Leader in the Law by the Wisconsin Law Journal (2016)
  • Awarded Doctor of Humane Letters, International Theological Center, Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary (2015)
  • Selected as the Milwaukee Rotary Club's Person of the Year (2015)
  • Named to Savoy Magazine’s Most Influential Black Lawyers List (2015, 2018)
  • Recipient of the Distinguished Executive Award from the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame (2015)
  • Awarded the 2014 Doctor of Business Degree by the University of Wisconsin System
  • Awarded the 2014 Trustee of the Year Award by the Wisconsin Hospital Association, Inc.
  • Received the 2014 Central City Business Award in Lifetime Achievement from The Milwaukee Business Journal
  • 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year
  • National Managing Partner of the Year (2013)
  • Presidential Legacy Award (2013 - National Bar Association)
  • National Entrepreneur of the Year (2013 - MBA Association)
  • Central City Business Award (2014 - The Business Journal of Milwaukee)
  • Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame (2012 - Midwest Real Estate News Magazine)
  • Excellence in Education Award (2012 - Milwaukee Public School Board of School Directors)
  • "Friend of the University Award" (2012 - Marquette University Alumni Association)
  • Spirit of Excellence Award (2012 - American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Legal Profession)
  • Legend of the Year (2012 - Milwaukee Community Journal)
  • Pathfinder Award (2011 - African-American Managing Partners Network)
  • Friend of Hispanic Community Award (2011 - United Community Center)
  • Trailblazer in Law (2011 - Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated)
  • Humanitarian Award (2008 - St. Francis Children's Center, Milwaukee, WI)
  • "Outstanding Alumnus" award (1994 - North Central College)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® (1993–present: Real Estate Law)
  • Appointed Fellow, Ford Foundation (1970, 1971)
  • Appointed Fellow, National Science Foundation (1969)
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