John W. Daniels, Jr

John W. Daniels, Jr
Chairman, Quarles & Brady LLP

Headquarters: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Primary Business: Law firm
Revenues: $212.7 million
Employees: 904

Building a New Business Model

Since I assumed the chairmanship of Quarles & Brady in 2007, the legal industry has undergone enormous changes. Law firms in general have been comfortable if not set in their ways, but the struggling economy has now forced them to evolve in order to succeed in the 21st century. In that environment, I’ve spent much of my tenure building a new business model, seeking to transform our organization into one that’s “built to surpass.” However, diversity is one constant that remains essential to our success. Then and now, a diverse workplace is critical to our clients’ declared interests, leads to superior work product and in fact represents the future of the entire business community.

Many of our most enlightened clients have placed an emphasis on inclusion for many years. Some have implemented diverse supplier policies, while others have even created awards for outside vendors that demonstrate a clear commitment to inclusion—I’m pleased to report that Quarles has been so recognized and honored many times over. Looking forward, inclusion will increasingly become a prerequisite to business partnerships. It will become virtually impossible to function in the absence of a sincerely inclusive working environment.

On a practical level, inclusion simply leads to competitive advantage. In our highly competitive professional world, only top performance translates to success. Clearly, those organizations with the greatest range of minds and perspectives will outthink, and thus outperform, the competition. Inclusion, by its nature, brings more ideas to the table, facilitating better solutions—within just a few years, non-diverse companies won’t stand a chance in the global marketplace. There is now an abundance of data in just about every business sector demonstrating the benefit of inclusion. For those who are able to see, understand and act on this, it offers yet another competitive advantage in serving clients, customers and others. It does, however, require an absolute commitment from the very top of the organization as well as a commitment to accountability.

It’s a fact: America itself is becoming more diverse with each passing year. Culturally we may have a way to go, but demographically we’re already there. Companies that hope to succeed, now and in the future, must reflect the mindset and the makeup of the markets in which they operate. In other words, inclusion isn’t just a virtue, it’s the face of reality, business and otherwise. Those organizations that acknowledge and embrace this truth will succeed in the years to come, while those that lag behind will soon look like and become remnants of the past.

When I became the chairman of Quarles & Brady, I knew in my heart that inclusion was critical to the future of the firm. Today, it’s already proven policy.

Education: BA, North Central College; MS, University of Wisconsin; JD, Harvard Law School
First Job: My very first job was selling magazines and periodicals door-to-door. I got to know a lot about encyclopedias.
What I’m Reading: Extraordinary, Ordinary People, by Condoleezza Rice
My Philosophy: “Everybody Counts, Every Day” and it reflects on my personal belief that the richness in life comes from just about every direction.
Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to take a risk.
Family: The single most important thing in my life and the thing that has shaped just about everything that is important to me.
Interests: I am interested in things that have changed the world.
Favorite Charity: Boys & Girls Club