Chattanoogan: Dan Gilmore – The Squire

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey

In Medieval times, knights who fought battles could depend on the protection and aid of the squire. Defense attorney Dan Gilmore firmly believes he has the same role with his clients.

Born in Dallas to Jerry and Martha Gilmore, Dan was the older of his sister Susan and brother Chuck. The younger siblings followed a different direction than Dan and his attorney father.

“Dad is still practicing and he just turned 80 a few months ago. He is the ‘Energizer Bunny’,” Dan says. “I think that’s great …just to keep your mind sharp and keep doing it as long as you can and I think that is my game plan as well.”

Dan grew up in Oak Cliff and the Kessler Park area of Dallas. He remembers being active outdoors, camping, hunting and, much to his mother’s dismay, riding motorcycles all over the countryside.

“I was very fortunate my parents put a lot of value on traveling and allowed us to see parts of the country and Canada and Mexico. That was a great gift and we are trying to do the same for our kids,” Dan says.

He played softball, but mostly football and, being a Texan, followed the Dallas Cowboys religiously. “My wife sometimes feels Texans to be obnoxious, but you know… I am a Texan and will always be,” Dan chuckles.

At first Dan thought of going to medical school, but when chemistry was more than he bargained for, he decided to go into law and, like many first-born males who follow their father’s footsteps in a career, Dan found out that was the very same thing that happened to his father and their career paths were very similar.

Another passion for Dan was the military. As a high school student, Dan spent time in South Africa as an exchange student a couple of years after the uprising that was started in Soweto in 1976, where more than 600 were killed in clashes between black protesters and security forces.

“It really impressed on me (even if I didn’t agree politically) to see them defending their country and fighting for what they believed in. That was an early seed in wanting to pursue the military even though I didn’t come from a military family,” Dan recalls.

He signed up for officer candidate school and in 1983 was commissioned in the Marine Corps. Dan was in the reserves for a few years while he attended law school and went active duty for three years and back to the reserves for four more years. He was discharged with the rank of captain. “A lot of people at Miller & Martin referred to me as ‘Captain Dan’,” he quips.

Dan met his wife Susan at church while in Washington, D.C., in between undergrad and law school. They married a few years before Dan went active duty.

“My first daughter was born during the week we were at the rifle range and it was ironic for me emotionally being trained to kill people and to have my daughter being born,” Dan admits.

Daughter Claudia was a big part of his reason not to pursue another tour. Stationed in North Carolina for three years, little Claudia was entering preschool and Dan and Susan wanted to be closer to family.

“My parents were still in Texas and Susan’s parents had retired to Chattanooga. We looked at both places and I got the offer from Miller & Martin and we moved to Chattanooga in 1990,” Dan says.

Susan gave birth to daughter Josephine and a few years later she had Alice. While raising the three girls, Susan was also working at the Free Press writing a column in the Lifestyle section. Dan’s firm later approached him with an opportunity to go to California ‘on loan’ to Coca-Cola Enterprises, but still working for Miller & Martin.

“We lived in Pasadena in a great neighborhood. It was a terrific experience with my family seeing other parts of the country they hadn’t seen. I started thinking about coming back to Chattanooga to develop my own practice,” Dan says. “There was a window of opportunity as Josephine was about to start high school and Alice was about to start middle school. It seemed as good a time as any.”

Dan and his family moved back to Chattanooga in 2009 where he joined Chambliss Bahner & Stophel until he was ready to get out on his own.

“I started my own practice last year and it was the most dramatic move professionally, that I have ever made,” Dan insists.

Temporarily located at the Business Development Center, Dan is building a successful practice and is active with the Chamber.

Dan would get asked frequently about the word ‘esquire’ (a courtesy title largely used for lawyers) and decided to do a little research on where it derived from. It meant ‘squire’ which came from the French word ‘esquire’ and, when Dan read the meaning of ‘squire’, he realized that was exactly what he did for his clients. He was their sword-bearer, their protector and shield, thus forming his practice Squire Strategies.

“I like the idea of a squire, because I protect my clients proactively, as well as reactively.  If something happens where they are sued, I am there to defend them. It at least prompts people to ask where that came from and gives me the opportunity to say, ‘here’s the story…’ and I think it also reinforces my philosophy of practicing law,” Dan affirms.

In consideration of his passion for helping people, Dan credits both his parents and also his military career.

“I really enjoy working with people and for people. Before she passed away, my mother was a Methodist minister and she was one of the first ordained Baptist women in Texas in the 70s. I, attribute a lot of my compassion for people and passion for working with people to her. My dad of course, was the legal influence, but for my approach professionally and socially, my mother was very influential in that,” Dan says.

Entrepreneur Mike Bradshaw invited Dan to work with the Gig Tank program at Co-Lab volunteering as a lead mentor.

“When I was asked to do that, it really gave me the opportunity to not only work with that team, but other lead mentors and specialists and to be around energetic, creative, ambitious people and that really energizes me. It keeps me sharp and excited. The immediate return is what I get from being around so many creative people,” Dan vows.

“I really have to be engaged with people and have contact with people. That’s why I love being at the BDC. There is a lot of interaction with a variety of people. My best clients are those who value their employees and I can help make them more successful by making their employees more productive, increase morale, and that it is very important to me,” Dan says.

When Dan contemplates his greatest achievement, he doesn’t hesitate to answer, “My girls. I am very proud of them. People talk about their portfolios and vast investments, but my daughters are my living, breathing… they are my legacy. As a parent you do all you can to influence them positively and …sometimes you just have to hold your breath and hope it all works out,” Dan laughs.

“They are very different personality-wise. They each follow their own passions.  My wife is now a novelist. She had written for the L.A. times, the Christian Science Monitor and she has been a great influence professionally to our girls. Her creativity is evident in all of them,” Dan beams proudly.

Dan gets even more personal as he opens up about an issue that significantly affected all of his family. Before his mother’s passing, Dan learned that she had a genetic mutation carrying the abnormal gene BRCA1 which most likely resulted in her death.

“She died of ovarian cancer that spread to her breast and went to her brain. I inherited that mutation from her and my daughter Claudia inherited it from me,” Dan says.

“Mom gave me a DVD to learn about it and I wouldn’t even watch it, I was in denial and didn’t want to deal with it. After she had passed, my wife basically insisted telling me, ‘You have daughters…’ and, if I didn’t have the mutated gene then they were clear, but if we knew I had it they could be better informed of choices they may have to make. I finally went for testing and found out that I did have the mutation,” Dan discloses.

Dan’s youngest daughters haven’t decided to be tested yet, but Claudia found out she had the mutation and elected to have a prophylactic double-mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

“That shifted her academic focus to medical issues and she got her master’s in public health this spring. What has become her real passion is women’s issues and testing. Screening for cancer has been an over-riding theme in our lives since we first found out about it,” Dan says.

Claudia developed a website and began blogging which gave her an opportunity to speak on the Today Show and she has been very public about it.

“She has made the very best of that situation turning something negative into a positive thing for her and for the people she impacts,” Dan says.

Though there are increased risks for Dan as a male to have breast cancer, the risks are relatively minor, but he learned the importance of screenings and is very supportive in his daughter’s endeavors. Claudia’s website http://previve.com/ is called “Previve” a play on words combining the word “prevent” with “survive” in order to empower women and spread awareness of the choices women now have in dealing with the BRCA1 gene.

“With having three daughters,” Dan says, “it has much more of an impact on me and it is something we feel very strongly about.”  

jen@jenjeffrey.com  


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