Happy Wednesday, friends! I'm back with another Celebration Series interview and today I'm chatting with my SCOTUS mugs business partner and also one of my closest friends: the hilarious/brilliant/passionate/kind-hearted David Dewhirst. Beau and I met Dave and his wife Tess through mutual friends back in Virginia and we were thrilled when it worked out for all of us to move to the pacific northwest around the same time. Some of our favorite weekends are spent with Dave, Tess, Hunter, Whitney and Michelle, (those are the mutual friends I was referring too earlier!) drinking coffee, making food, keeping our dogs from getting into trouble (Dave and Tess are the parents of Walter's brother, Ox), talking life and making each other laugh. These people are my people and I feel so fortunate to know them and learn from them.
But back to Dave. :)
My knowledge of law and politics runs about as deep as a season of House of Cards/Scandal/Serial, but despite my total lack of understanding surrounding Dave's career, I know without a shadow of a doubt that this guy is very good at his job. Dave is motivated by things that are good and true and his passion for what he's doing and why he's doing it runs deep. Beyond all of this, Dave is a caring husband, father to his son Jack (who is objectively the cutest baby ever), and friend. He is incredibly witty, sincere and loyal and that combination makes him such a compelling and all-around wonderful friend to have around. I've learned so much from Dave and I know for certain that I'm better for it.
Let's get into the interview!
Give us a quick background on who you are and what you do for work.
My name is David (or Dave), and I'm a constitutional and civil rights litigator for a West-coast nonprofit organization, the Freedom Foundation. Somehow, after growing up in Southern Alabama, attending college in Florida and Kentucky, marrying my beautiful wife in Nashville, teaching in Switzerland, and completing graduate schools in Virginia and D.C., I ended up in Washington State representing workers who are victims of injustice. It's been a circuitous route, but I'm glad to be here. One of the best parts of my job (other than winning a case or argument) is telling my clients that I will be representing them pro bono, thanks to the generosity of my organization's donors.
What about your work brings you the most joy and fulfillment?
My life/work motto is taken from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah: "learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." In my current practice, I believe I've discovered a way to check several of those boxes at once. Representing people who have been harmed by big, powerful interests but would never otherwise have the financial means to enforce their legal rights—that's fulfilling. But outside the context of work, my heart is daily filled with joy by my faith, my amazing wife, Tess, my 9-month old son, Jack, my big, dumb, lovable yellow labradoodle, Ox, and the mountains.
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
Lakes and mountains. Mountainous lakes. Lakes situated high up in the mountains. Also, Medieval philosophers, 18th Century politicians, 19th Century British Statesman, 20th Century fantasy fiction writers, entrepreneurs, audiobooks, and, again, my lovely wife and partner, Tess.
And, Steve Harvey hosting pageants.
What has been difficult lately?
Steve Harvey hosting pageants. For me, life and work have been very good. I'll say the biggest difficulty has been learning that judges make decisions for a variety of reasons—some of which occasionally have nothing to do with the law or right and wrong. The best judges resist the temptation to make partisan decisions, but many do not. And after spending hundreds of hours writing briefs and preparing for oral arguments, it can be a gut check to lose—especially when you should, all other things equal, have won. "Equal justice under law" is an absolutely noble aspiration, but it isn't a reality in every case. Luckily, when this happens in most cases, I can appeal to a group of judges with more intellectual integrity. But even these occasional disappointments have helped me and my team learn new strategies to push cases over the finish lines. We learn the most from the hard things, so I'm thankful for this difficulty.
What makes you different from everyone else in the world and how does that uniqueness manifest itself in your work and life?
I created a witty coffee mug that made U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia laugh uproariously. Back in law school, I created the Scalia mug as a fundraiser for a student group I was leading. The phrase, "embrace your textual orientation" just struck me as really funny—in a nerdy, lawyerly way. But it made perfect sense for Scalia. For those non-lawyers out there, he championed a method of legal interpretation known as textualism, and his influence has massively altered the way most lawyers read and practice the law. On the other hand, we all know where the Justice stood on many cultural issues, and I thought the mug phrase captured both aspects in one funny package. Though I was never able to hand deliver a mug to him, my good friend did, and he reported that the Justice received the mug, laughed heartily, and carried it around with him for the rest of the day. He was a man of good humor and mirth, and this mug is a tribute I think he would have appreciated.
But I'm very glad to have teamed up with the uber-talented Lindsay Gilmore to develop a fresh, new re-vamp of the first in a line of several Judges' mugs' mugs that will brighten the days of folks all over the country!
What's the longest amount of time you've gone without showering?
I think a full week. It was a backpacking trip in the Pacific Northwest. It was alright, too, because I would jump in a river or lake every afternoon. I'll take that form of bathing every day. You haven't lived until you've hiked to a remote, beautiful place, jumped into an ice cold river (And, I mean, really-freaking cold!), and then read a book in the sunshine for several hours before making a simple meal over a backpacking stove.
Thanks, Dave, for all the goodness you've brought to the world! I'm lucky to know you!
P.S. our first SCOTUS mug dedicated to Justice Scalia is on sale until tomorrow ONLY. If you've been thinking about ordering one, do it before the listing goes away!
Love & Respect,