MEET THE OBA Daniel Rock 11/07/12
By Matt Goodlett
––Photo by Michael Tran
Attorney Daniel Rock keeps busy morning, noon, evening and night, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Daniel Rock, aka ‘Herbie,’ Tackles It All
The Daily Record
Daniel L. Rock has been involved with his law firm –Ellick, Jones, Buelt, Blazek & Longo – for a long time.
Rock said, “I’ve been here my whole life. I’ve been married to the firm longer than I’ve been married to my wife.”
Technically that may be true, although he both started practicing law for the firm and married his wife Susan in the same year he graduated from law school. But the story of how Rock met his wife has probably got the story of how he came to be at the law firm beat.
Hundreds of thousands of people have seen Rock before, although they probably don’t realize it. While in college he donned the mantle of the Husker’s mascot Herbie Husker. He met his wife while at an away game at Kansas State.
Rock said, “She was going to Kansas State and I met her the night before the game. I told her if she came to the game, I’d take her down onto the field as Herbie.” It turns out Rock did see her at the stadium on game day and did end up taking her onto the field.
“She gave Herbie a kiss on the cheek, he swooned and the rest is history,” Rock said adding an amendment, “Five kids later, the rest is history.”
Rock played football at Central High School, but realized he wouldn’t make the team at the collegiate level in Lincoln. He said, “I really missed that connection with the team and that was the closest thing that I could think of to be involved.”
He tried out and became the Varsity Herbie, representing the Huskers at football, men’s basketball and some baseball games, while divvying up half of Herbie’s appearances at philanthropy events with the Junior Varsity Herbie.
“It was great because you got to be involved with the university and go to all of the events,” he said.
Involvement was something that Rock carried beyond college. Family and community involvement seem to round out his days. He coaches elementary school basketball before school and goes to bar association meetings at lunch.
He helps his five children with homework after dinner, then waters flower baskets in the Dundee neighborhood, where he’s on the neighborhood association, in the evenings. At night he locks up a church.
Rock has also served on the American Diabetes Association board. His wife has diabetes and her specialty is as a certified diabetes educator.
It’s helpful to be a lawyer when you’re involved in the community, “because you understand what people are going through,” Rock said. “I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older and matured and gone through the scenarios that my clients bring to me that I can be more sympathetic and understand what they’re going through.”
He said that combining his knowledge of the law with the practicality of the facts of his clients’ lives has allowed him to advise them better.
One of the main areas that Rock focuses on as an attorney is Immigration Law. He helps universities and medical practice groups bring in help from other countries. He said the process might seem simple, but there are a lot of details that need to be done right. It’s obvious that Rock feels the gravitas of this work.
“You’re dealing with people’s lives. Whether they live in this country or their home country, they depend upon your work. There’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders in that respect. I take a lot of care in it,” Rock said. “I can’t be the doctor who solves the mystery of cancer, but I can help get people here who can help with that process and help find the cure. So that makes me happy.”
The care that Rock brings to his profession hasn’t gone unnoticed. He’s received an AV rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, bestowed by his peers to signify that he meets the highest levels of ethical standards and legal knowledge.
Rock values the recognition less than helping his clients. He says, “You want to serve your clients and usually those two things should have the same result. And I hope they have.”
Another area where Rock focuses, and feels he can help people, is estate planning.
“Talking to people about end-of-life issues is emotional for them. Then handling the probate estate after someone is gone – working with the family to deal with that is a very personal process,” Rock said.
“I enjoy helping those people because you can see in their eyes when they’re talking to you about it that they want some help, they want some direction, that they don’t just want some forms that you can buy off the Internet. They want you to talk them through the process.”
Before going on to law, Rock flirted with the idea of becoming a weatherman. He majored in journalism and minored in climatology at UNL. He became involved with his current law firm as a runner while still in high school.
He worked summers at the firm while studying at UNL. While at Creighton, he got a clerkship with the firm, and after graduating from law school in 1993 he was hired as an associate. Five years later Rock was made a partner. His introduction to the law firm came from his Boy Scout leader David Buelt, a partner at the firm.
Today, Rock gets back to Lincoln for Husker football games. But now he does so as a Boy Scout leader instead of Herbie.
Rock said that the boys, his sons included, will talk about the games all week long – what happened last weekend and what’s going to happen this weekend. He said, “We get boys who would never ever get to the games otherwise.
We get to the games and the boys just light up. It’s just such a miraculous thing for them to see all of the red and the excitement.”
Talking to Rock, the one thing that stands out is his modesty about himself and his accomplishments. But he does show pride in two areas. He mentions the fact that all of the lawyers at his law firm started their careers there and stayed there.
“I’m proud of our law firm, and I’m proud of my family – my five kids and my wife. Sometimes you go home and you think, ‘What’s all this about?’ Then you see one of your kids doing something that’s above and beyond to help someone out and you think, it probably wasn’t me, but that kid’s turning out good.”