J. Daniel Weidner, partner with Koley Jessen, has spent more than a decade developing and growing the firm’s construction practice, while giving back to the community. He’s been so busy, in fact, that he was named a Midlands Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree just in time for his 40th birthday.
Even his decision to get into law reveals the plans he had for himself both personally and professionally; plans he’s brought to fruition over 16 years with the firm, the first two while still attending Creighton University School of Law.
“I got done with my [undergraduate] in business and knew that probably wasn’t going to satisfy my desire for the goals I had professionally,” he said. “I still am a little bit of a bleeding heart and also wanted the opportunity to be able to help people by developing a very specific skill set. I knew regardless of what I ended up doing, obtaining a J.D. would allow me to help people and open a lot of different doors.”
Weidner established himself in the firm’s talented roster of attorneys for both his legal acumen and his business instincts. By 2009, he’d launched Koley Jessen’s construction law practice group, seeing a valuable opportunity in the marketplace to broaden the firm’s focus in this area. Despite stiff competition from other firms, he’s led Koley Jessen to carve out a profitable share of that market.
“We knew how to do litigation really well, so it became how do we translate to be top-notch in the construction industry and give people the confidence that when you’ve got a multi-million-dollar construction dispute, you want us in your corner,” he said.
“People in the construction industry, a lot of them, really want the good, the bad and the ugly. They don’t want a cheerleader attorney. They want you to just talk straight with them so they can make a business decision and move on. And that works great with my personality and I love the work.”
A Drive to Give Back
Weidner has been equally ambitious in community service work. He’s dedicated nearly a decade of service to Completely Kids in various capacities, including the group’s board and Executive Committee. Other organizations that have benefited from his participation include Robert M. Spire Inns of Court, Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon and Grant’s Cause for Spina Bifida.
He said the example set by his mother and grandmother while growing up fuels his passion to serve today.
“My grandmother – we called her Non – would have a bag full of extra gloves and extra scarves and hats in the car for when she was driving around south Omaha. If she saw a kid walking to school who didn’t have a hat, she would stop and ask, ‘Can I give you a hat?’” he said. “My mom will drop anything she’s doing for anyone who needs help at a moment’s notice, whether it’s through the nonprofit that she works for, with the church or just people at the school where she’s the school nurse.
“Seeing two of the most influential women in my life always willing to do that ingrained in me that I have an opportunity to give back. It’s my moral obligation to do it and I really enjoy doing it.”
Weidner graduated from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a degree in business administration in 2004, before graduating magna cum laude from Creighton’s law school in 2007. In 2014, he became an equity shareholder in Koley Jessen. He and his wife Brenda have four children, ages 3 to 11.
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