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Attorney Daniel Urban Reflects on 20 Years with Wickens Herzer Panza

Daniel C. Urban, Esq.

I grew up in Brook Park, Ohio just south of Cleveland.  If you are a Clevelander, you know what this place is . . . home . . . always.  Even before I left for college, I knew this is where I’d return to live, work, and raise a family.  I suppose you can take the kid out of Brook Park, but you can never take Brook Park out of the kid.  I am the son of an auto worker and a hairdresser.  As blue collar as they come.  I was a really good student and athlete at Midpark High School playing 3 sports back in the days when that was acceptable.  I had God-given gifts as a student-athlete, but I also worked tirelessly chasing my dream of playing college sports.  There are no short cuts to success and that effort led me to the classrooms and football field at Yale. 

During my freshman year at Yale, I knew I was returning home for the Summer and needed a job to help with the cost of going to school.  I had always thought about becoming a lawyer.  There was something about the competition of putting together a case and making an argument that felt like developing a game plan and playing the game.  I wrote the Yale Alumni Association of Cleveland about my interest in a Summer job at a local law firm.  To my continued great fortune, Dave and Sharon Herzer responded to that letter.  See Dave grew up in Lorain and traveled the same path as me only 25 years earlier at the time we had met in 1990.  To this day, Dave is my mentor and friend.  And the law firm bearing his name is where I have been for the past 20 years. 

But my law career didn’t start here.  In 1996, I was given an offer by what was then known as Arter & Hadden, which is now Tucker Ellis.  I remember telling Dave that I intended to take the offer, and I’ll never forget his incredibly gracious response.  He said, “I understand.  You are a young man that wants the challenge of a big Cleveland firm, but if you ever should change your mind, you’ll always have an office here.”  Six years later in January, 2003, I left downtown for the suburb of Avon.  Though that decision was not easy since I worked with great lawyers - several of whom are still best friends to this day – at a first class firm, I have never looked back. 

So why am I sharing this?  Two reasons. 

First, I am getting older and remembering where I am from and who has gotten me here is important to me.  Thank you to my parents and my family.  Thank you to my friends and teammates from Brook Park and Midpark High School.  Thank you to my friends and teammates from Yale.  Thank you to my teachers, professors, and coaches all along the way.  Thank you to my friends and colleagues from Arter & Hadden.  Thank you to my friends and colleagues here at WHP these past 20 years.  In particular, thank you to Dave and Sharon Herzer for giving me a Summer job back in 1990.  You have all played a huge part in the man I am today.  I am forever grateful. 

Second, I met Dave when he was 45 years old.  He may have not known it then (or maybe he did), but I was his succession plan.  I am now 52 years old and it is past time to start working on my own succession plan.  After all, I give succession planning counsel to my clients every week.  If I cannot plan for my own succession then what good is my advice to start.  I am fortunate to have great partners and some incredibly talented younger lawyers as part of the team here at WHP.  As we all know, talent wins the game in any business or profession and we are always on the look-out for more at every level.  If you or someone you know is looking for an opportunity like I had, which is to learn and to develop alongside wonderful people who happen to be great lawyers and to be part of a Firm with a bright future, let’s talk.

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