June 2015 Bar Bulletin
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June 2015 Bar Bulletin

Helen M. Geisness Award: Daniel Gandara

By Mary Anne Vance


"Get up in the morning. Work hard. Stay out of trouble." With these three short sentences Dan Gandara's grandfather, Nabor Contreras, prodded his young grandson on the path to success. Gandara, the recipient of the Helen M. Geisness Award, credits his grandfather's guidance as a key ingredient to his ability to have led a generous and successful life.

The Helen M. Geisness Award is given to individuals who have shown "exemplary distinguished service on behalf of the King County Bar Association." Gandara is an energetic person and has devoted more than 25 years to bringing his unique and creative vision and leadership to both the King County Bar Association (KCBA) and the King County Bar Foundation (KCBF).

Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu recently wrote, "Dan Gandara is so worthy of this award. He is surely exemplary in his generosity of self to the bar and minority lawyers."

"I think this recognition is long past due," says Dick Manning, who worked with Gandara on the task force reorganizing KCBF in the 1990s.

Colleen Kinerk writes, "Dan is one of the most deeply respected attorneys and bar leaders in the history of KCBA. He is collaborative, creative, committed and energetic. He is justifiably admired for his skills as a trial attorney ... with an unwavering commitment to ethics and integrity."

After growing up in Los Angeles, Gandara graduated from UCLA and from Harvard Law School in 1974. As an attorney he has had a distinguished career as a litigator, joining Vandeberg Johnson & Gandara in 1993. His current practice focuses on general counsel and business law, including real estate transactions, and commercial and tort litigation.

Gandara is a visionary and was troubled by the difficulties minorities encountered entering the legal profession in the 1990s. He worked with KCBF to increase minority scholarships at the local law schools. He wanted to make each scholarship large enough to really make a difference to a student applicant.

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