Musick Peeler LLP Partner Dan Woods has been named in The National Law Journal‘s 2021 list of ‘Litigation Trailblazers,’ published this week. The special supplement recognizes professionals who have “moved the needle in the legal industry – those who are truly Trailblazers.” The publication goes on to say they select individuals who have made “significant marks on the practice, policy and technological advancements in their sector.”
“Dan is truly a trailblazer for his clients,” said Musick Peeler’s Managing Partner R. Joseph De Briyn. “Dan continually provides the firm’s clients with the highest degree of strategy and service.”
In the feature, Woods recalls his greatest and most well-known case when he represented the Log Cabin Republicans in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” trial which ended the United States Military’s discriminatory policy towards the LGBTQ+ community. Woods says he first became interested in the idea of challenging the federal statue known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) because he found the constitutional law issues interesting. But “after hearing the stories of service members who either had been or feared being discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation, or were fearful of being discharged, the case became much more than just an academic issue. They had enlisted, gone through boot camp and were willing to risk their lives to serve our country and protect its Constitution, even though our country was depriving them of their constitutional rights. These individuals did not want to change the military – they just wanted to be part of it.”
The trial took place in the Central District of California in July 2010 and Woods, on behalf of his client, won a judgment declaring the US military’s DADT policy to be unconstitutional and an injunction against further enforcement of the policy on due process and First Amendment grounds. Woods litigated the case over the course of seven years on a pro bono basis. He says in the feature the case has also “played a part in the recent struggle for acceptance of transgendered service members. Along with the marriage equality cases, it has helped show that sexual orientation should not be the basis of any form of discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.”
Earlier this year, Woods was profiled in the 2022 edition of Benchmark Litigation as a ‘California Litigation Star,’ and he was awarded Inner City Law Center’s (ICLC) Katharine Krause Award for many years of volunteer and pro bono work.
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