Forty Under 40: William J. Miller
Partner, Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Friday, March 07, 2014 7:00 AM
While a student at Drake University Law School, William Miller thought he had the future figured out.
William J. Miller
Mentor: No single person. “There are a lot of people I’ve been lucky enough to work with.”
His Twitter handle @starbuck132 can be misleading. He is not an avid coffee drinker, but he is a fan of Herman Melville’s novel “Moby Dick.” Starbuck was the first mate of the whaling ship Pequod in the novel.
“I thought I would be in legal aid, or work for the state,” he said. Funny how things work out. Miller is recognized as one of the top trial attorneys in the state, specializing in business law. A signature case occurred early in his career, when Miller was co-counsel for Oskaloosa fire hydrant manufacturer Clow Valve Co., which claimed it bought defective grease from Chevron USA Inc. A jury awarded Clow Valve nearly $11 million in 2008.
“I may go the rest of my career and never achieve such a good result,” Miller said. He worked on the case with attorney Dennis Johnson, who went on to argue the landmark Varnum marriage equality case before the Iowa Supreme Court.
There have been other big cases for Miller, enough of them to garner this compliment from David Tank, who is the head of Dorsey & Whitney’s trial department.
“If I am ever involved in litigation, Bill Miller would be my first call for representation,” Tank said in a nominating letter.
Miller also has made a mark for his involvement in community and nonprofit organizations.
“Having Bill on the Amanda the Panda board of directors has been invaluable to me, our staff and families we serve,” wrote Charlene Kiesling, executive director of the nonprofit organization, which provides grief-related services to children and families.
Miller and his wife, Lucy, have four children.
“Most of what was spare time is now happily consumed with family things,” he said.
Reasons he’s a Forty:
• Graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute
• Amanda the Panda board member and general counsel.
• Former president of Beaverdale Neighborhood Association and a “Beaverdale Brick” recipient
• Treasurer for the Polk County Bar Association board of governors
• Member of Iowa Supreme Court advisory committee on rules of civil procedure
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