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APRIL 22, 2015 – The lawyers and staff of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP are mourning the loss and celebrating the life of firm founder John MacDougall Davis, who passed away on Friday, April 17, at the age of 101.
“Mr. Davis was an invaluable mentor to generations of attorneys at the firm,” said Jeff Gray, the firm’s managing partner. “His commitment to excellence, honesty, and community service was an inspiration to everyone.”
Mr. Davis founded the firm in 1944 based on what he called “Real Aims,” which included “Good reputation among fellow men, especially for ability and integrity.” His firm grew into one of the top 200 law firms in the country, its culture guided always by the aims Mr. Davis established.
“To have had a leader as beloved as Mr. Davis to inspire us for as long as he did was an ongoing gift to all of us,” said Bob Blackstone, partner-in-charge of the Seattle office. “He was a stellar lawyer and leader who did so much for our profession and our community. He was a real treasure, and will be greatly missed.”
Throughout his career, Mr. Davis distinguished himself as a leading banking lawyer. He served as counsel to the Washington state banking association for 36 years. He saw potential in Asian markets at a time few did. With his guidance, Japanese banks were first able to open offices in Seattle, an important step in advancing Pacific Rim trade. Davis Wright Tremaine was the first U.S. law firm authorized to open an office in Shanghai, China in 1994, a bold move at that time, which was strongly encouraged by Mr. Davis.
Each year, the firm gives the John M. Davis Award to a partner who demonstrates a superb knowledge of the law. Mr. Davis not only is the namesake of the award, but also was its first recipient.
“He always will be considered a ‘super-lawyer,’ but he was far more than that,” said Mark Hutcheson, a senior partner and former managing partner of Davis Wright Tremaine. “He served as an excellent role model for generations of lawyers in our firm and throughout the Pacific Northwest legal community. We all aspire to be like John Davis. He was a true professional in the purest sense.”
Davis’ public service was extensive. He devoted more than three decades to the Pacific Science Center, was one of the founders of the Mountaineers Foundation, and shared his time and counsel for 27 years as a board member for Virginia Mason Medical Center. He served in, and was honored by, local, state, and national bar associations in countless ways.
Mr. Davis never officially retired, and he maintained a regular weekly schedule of visits to Davis Wright’s Seattle office up until last year. In 2004, in honor of his 90th birthday, the firm established an annual diversity scholarship in his name at the University of Washington Law School. Mr. Davis was one of the oldest living graduates of the school.
“It is our duty to participate in the community—it’s part and parcel of being a lawyer,” Mr. Davis once said. “Unless we are serving mankind to the greatest extent of our ability and putting our best talent into that service, what good is life?”
“John’s honorable career demonstrated his belief that successful lawyers are those who dedicate their abilities to the service of others,” said Susan Duffy, former partner-in-charge of the Seattle office. “He viewed his role as an attorney—and his complementary roles as community leader, educator, mentor, and father—as the means to contribute to the betterment of humankind.”
Mr. Davis’ family asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory be made through a gift to a favorite charity or through service to those in need.
About Davis Wright Tremaine
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is a national law firm with approximately 500 lawyers representing clients based throughout the United States and around the world. For more information, visit www.dwt.com.