The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Daniel Queen, Partner —Litigation
Daniel (“Dan”) Queen is a partner in Mayer Brown’s Los Angeles office, where he focuses on litigation and dispute resolution. Dan has extensive experience litigating cases in federal and state courts at the trial and appellate levels, as well as conducting internal investigations and defending regulatory inquiries. Dan received his J.D. and LL.M., magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, from Duke University School of Law in 2010, and he received a B.A. in Government and International Relations, magna cum laude, from the College of William and Mary in 2005.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
Dan Q: I handle pre-trial, trial, and appellate work in state and federal courts. I work on a wide variety of commercial litigation disputes, though I have a heavy focus on financial disputes, technology-related issues, and consumer class action litigations.
What types of clients do you represent?
Dan Q: Many of my clients are financial institutions or technology companies, but I also have clients in various other fields—including real estate companies, insurers, and food manufacturers, just to name a few examples. On the pro bono side, I have worked with nonprofits and individual clients both in and out of the appellate context.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Dan Q: I handle class action litigations arising from a variety of claims, such as false advertising, labor and employment issues, and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. I also handle non-class cases, including commercial disputes, trade secrets and intellectual property litigation, and real estate matters.
How did you choose this practice area?
Dan Q: I am not solely an appellate litigator, but I am drawn to the appellate side of our cases out of a love of writing and conceptual thinking. Appellate litigation provides a unique opportunity to influence the law while advocating for our clients. And the caliber of attorneys and judges at the appellate level is unparalleled.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
Dan Q: One of the great benefits of my practice is that every day is different. I lead the briefing team on most of my cases, so I spend much of my time writing. I also spend a good chunk of the day discussing legal strategies with my colleagues and clients. But you also could find me handling discovery issues, negotiating with opposing parties, preparing agreements, or working on any number of other projects.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Dan Q: To be an effective appellate attorney, the single most important skill is writing. As a law student, you should take classes and participate in extracurricular activities that give you more opportunities to write and to hone your legal research skills. After law school, consider a clerkship, which will train you to write more effectively and better analyze competing legal positions. Once you join a firm, embrace every writing opportunity you can get—briefs, memos, articles, and anything else you can get your hands on.
What do you like best about your practice area?
Dan Q: I enjoy the long-term strategic thinking required for cases involving appellate issues. Rather than focus just on the day to day, you need to lay the groundwork for the appellate record, focus on the issues that will draw an appellate court’s attention, and consider the broader impact of an appellate decision on your client.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
Dan Q: At many firms, appellate litigators would not necessarily touch a case before it is appealed. That’s not true here, where our appellate litigators are often intimately involved at the trial level, particularly in high-stakes cases. Likewise, many of our litigators who focus more on pre-trial and trial work are attuned to potential appellate issues from the outset of the case, and they are intimately involved in the appeal if there is one.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
Dan Q: As Dan said, junior associates will be responsible for drafting briefs, preparing memos, and developing strategies right out of the gate. We love junior lawyers who have a passion for the law and a willingness to learn, and we give them as many opportunities as we can.
What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?
Dan Q: Appellate lawyers tend to be passionate about briefs, oral arguments, and legal theory. Those skills lend themselves not only to private practice, but also litigation careers at the government and in the nonprofit sector. Some attorneys begin their practice at private firms and then transition into public interest fields, and we also have attorneys who joined the firm after working for the Department of Justice and other federal and state agencies. Other well-rounded litigators ultimately transition from private practice to in-house litigation positions.