Michael C. Daniel
MICHAEL C. DANIEL is a Partner with Prior, Daniel & Wiltshire, LLC. Mr. Daniel was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1958. He graduated from Mount De Sales High School in 1977. He received his BA from Mercer University in 1981 and a JD degree from the University of Georgia Law School in December of 1983. He was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1984. He served as a Judge Advocate in the United States Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base from 1984 to 1988. From 1988 to 2004, Mr. Daniel was a member of the Georgia Air National Guard. He served as the Senior Judge Advocate for the Georgia Air National Guard from 1995 to 2004, attaining the rank of Colonel. Upon his retirement from the United States Air Force, Mr. Daniel was awarded the highly prestigious Legion of Merit.
In 1988, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as an Assistant United States Attorney, in the Office of the United States Attorney, Macon, Georgia. In 1992, Mr. Daniel moved to Athens, Georgia where he began the private practice of law.
Martindale-Hubbell® designates Mr. Daniel as an AV Preeminent Attorney– the highest rating an attorney can receive. He has received an Avvo Rating of Superb with the highest rating in business litigation. He has been recognized by numerous other rating services, including the National Association of Distinguished Counsel as an Attorney in the top 1% of the nation.
Mr. Daniel has served on various prestigious boards during his career, including the Georgia Technical College Board, the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board, the Board of Directors for Athens Regional Health Plan Select and the Board of Trustees for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.
Mr. Daniel has litigated cases for over 30 years in both State and Federal Courts in Georgia and throughout the Southeastern United States. His practice areas are:
Michael was the youngest of four boys. His father, Robert H. “Harry” Daniel was a factory worker at the Armstrong Cork Company in Macon, Georgia for 40 years. Michael’s mother Claire, was a homemaker initially, but to improve the family’s economic position she started working odd jobs and eventually took a position as an administrative assistant at C&S Bank in Macon, where she worked for more than 30 years. Michael grew up in an 816 square foot home in a factory neighborhood in Macon. “When you grow up with a family of 6 in a home that small you survive by doing two things: 1) scheduling your bathroom visits and 2) spending a lot of time outdoors.”
Michael’s Mom grew up as the daughter of a sharecropper in Dublin, Georgia. Her father moved to Thomaston, Georgia to take a position with the Martha Mill. Michael’s Dad grew up as the son of cotton mill workers in Thomaston. As the requirement to work in the Mill was a 10th grade education, no one saw the need for additional education past the 10th grade. As a result, most of the Daniel family did not graduate high school.
Harry was the oldest boy of a family of six. At age 16, his Dad (Michael’s Granddad) passed away from a heart attack and Harry took a job at the mill to become the primary financial support of his family.
“As I got older, I started noticing how tight nit my Dad’s brothers and sisters were. There was a great respect and adulation by my aunts and uncles toward Harry. It dawned on me that he had filled the role of a father figure for the family.”
Harry was deferred from the Korean War because he was the primary earner for the family. Because of this Harry always had a deep, heartfelt sense of gratitude for those that served. Michael recalls his Dad always going to the extra mile to support the troops and always had a bumper sticker in support of service members. “Dad’s patriotism and my brother’s (Rick) service gave me a sense of duty to our country, which caused me to join the Air Force out of law school. I had the great privilege to serve as a Judge Advocate General in the Air Force for 20 years (4 active duty)”
Harry’s brother-in-law had served in the war and had preference for jobs at Warner Robins Air Force Base and was employed there. Because of this, Harry moved the family to Macon following the Korean War. Harry’s sister called him and told him that Armstrong had some “high paying” jobs opening up. Harry took a position and worked as a fireman in the mill. The plant manufactured ceiling tiles. Harry worked rotating shifts, one week 7-3; the next week 3-11 and the next week 11-7. As a fireman, if the ceiling dryer caught fire, he was responsible for extinguishing the fire and pulling the tile out of the dryers. “Dad always came home with the smell of pulp on him, but when there was a fire, he came home exhausted like he had spent the day in a burning house… I cannot put in words the sacrifice my Dad made for his family”
Michael’s neighborhood was full of kids. Because of this, sports were the prominent activity. There were enough kids to field two pick-up baseball teams. The kids would always be playing baseball, football or basketball at the nearby elementary school, Joseph N. Neel. Michael developed some skills in sports and played running back for Mount De Sales High School. “I visited Presbyterian College and they talked to me about a partial athletic scholarship. When I considered the part I had to pay, going to play college ball was cost prohibitive. It was time to hang up the cleats and focus on academics.”
Because of their modest upbringing Harry and Claire believed strongly in education and the importance of work ethic and drive. Mount De Sales High School was the better school in Macon and Harry and Claire wanted to send the kids, but the cost was prohibitive. For them to afford the cost of tuition, Harry started trampoline business on the side. Michael says that this business caused him to become very close with his Dad. During the Fall and Christmas seasons, Michael would spend hours with his Dad, manually cutting pipe and hand painting trampolines. “Every time I smell paint or gasoline it takes me back to those days.” Some of Michael’s best memories were delivering trampolines. He says the deliveries would go all through the Christmas week and into the early morning hours of Christmas day. “I remember those rides with my Dad after the last delivery heading home at 2 or 3 in the morning on Christmas day, in the warm cab of the truck, no one on the road, quiet, bone tired, but content that we had made memories for a lot of children.” While the money was used for tuition, Michael says at the end of every season after putting in 100s of hours of work, his Dad would whip out a crisp $20.00 bill with a big smile and present it to him. “At the time, I would think you’re kidding, right… I did realize the purpose of the business and accepted the payment with a smile.”
Michael believes his Mom emphasized education and achievement, and provided love and incredible life advice, but his Dad gave him the work ethic. “Together they made a great team.” Michael’s mother still lives in Macon at age 83 and is thriving.
Michael carried the work ethic into college, paying his way through college by working at a Kroger grocery store in East Macon. While living at home with free room and board, Michael was able to pay for all of his tuition to earn his degree from Mercer, and save up enough money to pay for his legal education, with the exception of a modest student loan.
We will stop the biography here as we wanted to give you a glimpse into Michael’s background as a youth. Michael, loves and is very proud of his brothers, Rick (a retired Chief Master Sergeant), Robert (an accomplished musician) and Mark (the Chief Assistant District Attorney in the Tawaliga Circuit in Georgia).
Michael is married to the love of his life, Echo Daniel (1984). They have raised a daughter Claire (High School Star Student and Honor Student at the University of Georgia) and Ben (Summa Cum Laude graduate from the University of Georgia and Medical School candidate).
“My Dad and Mom led the American dream. They went from a share cropper’s daughter and mill worker’s son to the middle class. They always pushed us to be successful, saying they wanted our lives to be better than their life. My goal in my life is to give my children the opportunity to have a better life than mine.”
“Michael Daniel represented me on a wrongful seizure of $940,313 of my company’s working capital by the Internal Revenue Service. He was able to get an expedited hearing before the Federal Court and obtain the return of all but $50,000.00 of the proceeds. His skill and expertise was critical in saving my business.” — Andrew Clyde, CEO at Clyde Armory, Inc., Athens, Georgia
I consider Michael Daniel “…one of the most talented business attorneys in Northeast Georgia…” — J. Drew, CEO (Retired), Athens Regional Health Services
“Having the choice of any attorney in Athens, I chose Michael Daniel.” — Nancy Denson, Mayor of Athens