Dayna E. Underhill
Bar Number: 25677
After happily practicing legal ethics/professional responsibility and complex commercial litigation for years in a large multinational law firm, in March 2022 I made the big leap and opened my firm, Underhill Law Office. Best decision ever. Practicing on my own allows me to continue to do the work I love for my clients and to have greater flexibility to spend quality time with my family.
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What is the most interesting case you have handled in your career so far and why?
Almost a decade ago I handled a massive complex litigation matter. The facts, legal claims, and politics involved were complicated. There were multiple parties, including large corporations, government agencies, and elected officials, all of whom were represented by lawyers from firms around the country. I recall walking into the conference room for the first meeting with the lawyers from all sides of the case. As everyone introduced themselves, it struck me that every single lead counsel and elected official in that room was female. I had never had that experience before and it was astounding and exciting and we all felt it. That case occupied years of my career. I could not have dreamt up working with and learning from such accomplished, inspiring, brilliant, and funny women. To this day I feel so fortunate for that experience and that we keep in close touch.
How is being a lawyer different from the way you thought it would be?
I wavered between becoming a psychologist and a lawyer. I worried that as a lawyer I’d give up the chance to help vulnerable people and forge human connections, but it seemed a more exciting career choice. I didn’t realize until I began practicing that I’d given up nothing by my choice. Being a lawyer is all about helping vulnerable people and forging deep human connections.
How did you become interested in your practice area?
After a brief stint in the public defender’s office, I practiced plaintiff-side securities fraud litigation for several years. When our third child was born, I took a few years off. Just as I was getting ready to head back into the working world in 2007, a close lawyer friend who had gone to work for one of the leading legal ethics and professional responsibility lawyers in the country, Peter R. Jarvis, asked if I would be willing to consult on a law firm litigation matter that they expected might raise some securities questions. I knew the very first day I spent with them that I wanted to practice with them in the legal ethics and professional responsibility space. Now, almost 16 years later, I still feel lucky that they felt the same way about me.
If you had to give a 10-minute presentation on one topic other than the law, what would it be and why?
A presentation entitled “Everyone Struggles: The Benefit of Being Kind” because, particularly after raising three children and practicing law for 30-plus years, I believe this to be the highest value lesson we can offer.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
A giant cup of coffee and a perfectly ripe persimmon. Their season is so short that when they’re in season I eat them constantly.
What is your favorite smell?
What book have you read more than once?
The Handmaid’s Tale. That might sound predictable today since it’s now a hit TV show that resonates in light of our current politics. But I read it multiple times when it was first released in 1985. Back then it hit me as far-fetched but also scared me to death as if someone had seen a plausible future. Margaret Atwood is a visionary. I just wish she had envisioned a kinder future.
What is the last thing you watched on television?
The last season of Homeland. It was awesome.
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