by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
No is a word that has rarely gotten in the way of the goals of the incoming Jacksonville Bar Association (JBA) president.
Dan Bean, 44, will be sworn in June 18 as the new president of the JBA and he has made a career out of turning no’s into opportunities. He is a partner at the law firm of Holland & Knight, which turned down his application for employment when he first looked for a job in the private sector in Jacksonville.
“I applied to Holland & Knight in 1998 and was rejected,” said Bean. “I still have the letter, but now I’m a partner here.”
He was promoted to partner five years ago, and that decision was based both on the quality and quantity of his work according to Larry Hamilton, the practice group leader for Jacksonville litigation.
“He is a perfect example of ‘if you want to get something done give it to someone who is busy,’” said Hamilton. “He’s pretty amazing in everything he gets done in a day. He is one of our hardest working, well-respected lawyers in our office.”
And the rejection letter?
“We got it right the second time,” said Hamilton.
Bean had an offer to work at the firm of Gabel & Hair before applying to Holland & Knight, but he couldn’t wrap up his work with the Navy in time to meet the firm’s deadline, so he had to pass. He now works with George Gabel, who offered him the job, at Holland & Knight.
“He’s got a good personality, strong work ethic and enthusiasm for staying in touch with our clients,” said Gabel. “Dan is one of the leaders in our office, it’s a real pleasure to have him there. Every office needs a Dan Bean.”
After being turned down by Holland & Knight in 1998, Bean joined Marks Gray later that year with the help of the relationships he had developed through the JBA. Bean joined the Young Lawyers Section and served on its Board of Governors from 1999-2001. After aging off the Young Lawyers Board, Bean ran and was elected to the “Big Board” in 2001. During that time he has served under eight JBA presidents.
“I wanted to play in the annual golf tournament and I was told that in order to play I had to become a member,” Bean said. “Later, with the help of the relationships that I had developed through the JBA I was able to get a job with Marks Gray, who has a strong history of participation in the Bar.”
Shortly after joining Marks Gray, Bean received an offer to be a temporary clerk for United States District Judges Ralph Nimmons and Harvey Schlesinger. Three weeks into his new job, Nimmons told Bean that the 11th Circuit was cutting back its funding and Bean’s position would be eliminated.
“Judge Nimmons told me he would do whatever he could to help me get a job,” said Bean. “The next day Judge (John) Moore’s clerk decided she was leaving. This is an example of how lucky I’ve been throughout my life. Judge Moore is a retired Navy Commander and I interviewed in my Navy uniform and was hired immediately.”
Bean didn’t relinquish his duties once he went into private practice. He continues to serve in the Navy Reserve. He is a commanding officer of a unit based in Washington, D.C., called “Reserve Affairs and Operations.”
He commands six officers in assisting the Reserve Judge Advocate General (JAG) in implementing his policies to the Reserve JAG Corps. The commitment requires him to be in D.C. one weekend a month and two weeks of the year to serve with the unit.
Reaching the level of success that Bean has achieved hasn’t come easy for him, but he was able to develop an impressive work ethic and negotiating skills at a young age.
He grew up with eight siblings who shared three bathrooms, so mornings before school in Alexandria, Va., were a busy time.
“That’s where I learned the art of negotiation,” said Bean.
Those mornings became a little busier when he started delivering The Washington Post when he was 12.
“I was up every morning at about 5 a.m.,” said Bean. “I covered a 110-paper route for five years.”