Danielle Conley

Danielle Conley
Partner and Co-Chair, Anti-Discrimination Practice

Education: JD cum laude, Howard University School of Law; BA, English and African Diaspora studies, Tulane University; Clerkship, The Hon. Rosemary M. Collyer, US District Court for the District of Columbia
Company Name: Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Industry: Law
Company CEO: Susan Murley and Robert Novick, Co-Managing Partners
Company Headquarters Location: Washington, DC and Boston Massachusetts
Number of Employees: 2,030
Your Location (if different from above): Washington, DC
Words you live by: “Wherever you are, be all there.” Jim Elliot
Who is your personal hero? My grandfather
What book are you reading? Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson
What was your first job? Chuck E. Cheese
Favorite charity: Martha’s Table
Interests: Wine, traveling, baking with my daughters, and musicals
Family: Aaron (husband), Harper (daughter, 9), and Marley (daughter, 6)

I Thrive on Solving the Tough Problems

As simple or trite as it may sound, I love solving tough problems. I thrive when I’m helping my clients navigate crises and other complicated, high-risk problems that seem to have no clear or perfect solutions. As one of my colleagues recently told me, “Many people see fires and run from them; you see a fire and run toward it.”

My desire to work on difficult, significant issues is something that has remained constant during my time in both private practice and the government (I served as associate deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice at the end of the Obama Administration). While at DOJ, I worked on a variety of civil rights policy and enforcement matters, including issues related to policing, sexual misconduct on campus, LGBTQ rights, and criminal justice reform. Some of my favorite and most memorable moments at the Department involved sitting around a table with smart and thoughtful people, and turning over a really hard problem that had to be addressed carefully but quickly. Knowing that the decisions we made would impact people’s lives in a very real and meaningful way made the pressure to get it right even greater.

Similarly, at WilmerHale, I regularly work with companies and universities facing high-profile and reputation-threatening challenges—from reported incidents of sexual misconduct, harassment, and discrimination to inquiries and enforcement actions brought by the Department of Justice and other federal regulators. One of my strengths is my ability to help my clients quickly develop a strategy to attack the problem and my willingness to work extremely hard to execute that strategy.

The legal profession can be incredibly demanding, and at times, all consuming. And while I do work hard to find balance, I have always loved the fast-paced and high-pressure nature of the legal jobs I’ve held.

My 9-year old daughter, Harper, recently said to me, “Mom, I hope that when I get older, I’ll love my job as much as you love yours.” I, like many other working parents, often beat myself up because I miss a soccer game, a play, or a school field trip. I have never been a room parent, regularly forget when it’s “dress like a book character” or some other theme day at school, always bring things that don’t require cooking to potlucks (napkins and wine are my go-tos), and have dialed into more parent/teacher conferences than I can count (thank God for my incredibly supportive and patient spouse). But knowing that I am setting an example for my daughters of what it means to have a career that you take pride in and that brings you joy makes it all worth it.