Dan attended Georgetown University Law Center, earning his J.D. degree in 1986 and serving as an editor of the American Criminal Law Review. Afterward, Dan served for one year as a law clerk to the late Ninth Circuit Judge Thomas Tang in Phoenix, Arizona. Dan practiced law with the San Diego office of Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps LLP for several years before launching his own law practice in downtown San Diego. Dan operated Lawton Law Firm for twenty-four years after that, training several young lawyers, all of whom were his former law students. In 2018, Dan put his full-time law practice on hold in order to take a sixteen-month sabbatical, which he devoted to researching and writing a non-fiction book. In late 2019, Dan joined the San Diego office of Klinedinst PC, where he is a shareholder and practices in the firm’s appellate and professional liability practice groups.
Throughout his career, Dan has specialized in civil appeals and civil trial work. He is certified as a legal specialist in Appellate Law by the State Bar’s California Board of Legal Specialization. He has handled intellectual property litigation on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. Dan is also a counselor. He counsels both corporate and individual clients in a variety of settings, often in negotiations. His corporate clients have included companies whose stock is publicly-traded and companies whose stock is closely-held. They have included life sciences companies, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers and distributors of various products, landowners and property developers, large corporations, a local major league baseball franchise, automobile dealerships, and “mom-and-pop” businesses. His individual clients have included officers, directors, and shareholders (both majority and minority) of corporations, bankers, elected officials, politicians, professional athletes and coaches, attorneys, accountants, land owners, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and other individuals.
Dan has handled civil appeals and writs in both the California and federal courts. Dan has tried multiple jury trials, bench trials, and arbitrations. He has litigated many cases to disposition short of trial (by way of motions to dismiss and for summary judgment). Dan obtained the third-largest jury verdict in Imperial County (for $14,286,461, after a nine-week jury trial). His caseload has included cases involving patent infringement, copyright infringement, trade secret theft, unfair competition, defamation, and business torts.
Since 2008, the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization has certified Dan as a legal specialist in Appellate Law, a distinction held by 36 lawyers in San Diego County. In January 2009, Dan learned of his nomination for inclusion in 2009 San Diego Super Lawyers based on anonymous peer evaluation. He was so honored again in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 in the primary practice area of intellectual property litigation. Dan has served as a Master and team leader in the J. Clifford Wallace Chapter of the American Inns of Court since 2015. In that role, he has been responsible for putting on MCLE programs for the Inn, a group whose membership consists of lawyers and Judges and is by invitation only. In September 2015, Dan won an award for Best Program via anonymous peer vote for a short documentary he produced entitled “Avoiding Deathbed Regrets and Having Work/Life Balance.” The documentary combined excerpts of interviews with 25 local lawyers and Judges with data concerning work/life balance for attorneys and jurists. In 2021, Dan won another award for Best Program for a program entitled “What I’ve Learned,” another short documentary featuring interviews of local lawyers and Judges.
Dan has had an “A/V” rating from Martindale-Hubbell since 1997. Three times, he has earned the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contributions of legal services to pro bono clients. The State Bar has also honored Dan with multiple Wiley W. Manuel awards for pro bono work on behalf of refugees fleeing persecution abroad and seeking asylum in the United States.