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In-house counsel profile: David J. Evans

David J. Evans

David J. Evans points to distinct phases of his law career as valuable experience that prepared him to become general counsel of Parkway Hospitality Management, a new Baltimore-based firm.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Evans followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the Air Force. He served as an officer at a nuclear weapons post, and thought he might return to the Air Force after attending law school.

“I’ve had so many interesting opportunities,” Evans said. At one, an internship during his second year of law school, he “learned from the ground up,” leading to his serving as senior attorney of the Florida Division of Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes, assistant general counsel to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and assistant general counsel to the state House of Representatives.

Having worked in government, particularly in regulation, has served him well as a lobbyist and as an in-house counsel, he said. “It’s easier to work with people when you know what they are thinking,” he said, with regulatory law a prime example. In fact, he recommends some form of government service for everyone.

Evans had been thinking about going into real estate law, but developed a fondness for the hospitality industry. “There’s always something new,” he said. He worked for the American Resort Development Association, and then as associate general counsel for Sunterra (now Diamond) Resorts, “for the practical experience.” He returned to the ARDA, where he became senior legislative and corporate counsel.

Evans’ travels had taken him to every state capital — but that was just the beginning of far-flung assignments.

Next, Evans joined Wyndham Worldwide, which claims properties on six continents. Beginning with a trip to China, “I developed a reputation for working well with other cultures,” he said. He ran the corporation’s Singapore office, rising to group vice president, president legal–Asia Pacific for Wyndham Exchange and Rental.

Evans, who now had a family, cut down on his globe-trotting to become vice president of government affairs for the American Society of Travel Agents. But recently another opportunity presented itself.

As Parkway Hospitality Management’s general counsel, Evans finds himself in “an exciting phase of my career,” driven by entrepreneurial spirit. The startup’s goal is to provide management expertise and services for their clients’ properties while improving their profitability and increasing market share.

Evans hasn’t lost sight of the world beyond his office. In 2010 he earned a Practising Certificate from the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority of England and Wales. “We practice basically the same brand of law, but we have different terms. It’s good for me to have done it,” he said. “I was always thinking, ‘How would it apply to an American company?’”

Evans is also an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland University College and is a thesis away from receiving a master’s of fine arts in writing.

David J. Evans

Education: B.S., University of Tennessee; J.D., Stetson University College of Law; MFA, National University (expected winter 2012).

Resides in: Silver Spring, Md.

Daily commute: variable

Most recent vacation: Carlsbad, Calif.

Hobbies: Yoga, digital photography, writing.

Favorite book: “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman

Most recently read: “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future” by Daniel H. Pink

Favorite columnist: Dave Barry

Most memorable professional experience: My first business meeting in Beijing, PRC. I’d never been exposed to non-western customs and formalities in a business setting, and the intricacies of seating position, mannerisms, even pleasantries such as proper business card exchange still fascinate me. There’s no way a book can prepare you for all the little misunderstandings that can occur in a simple meeting, nor can a business text describe the importance of making a personal connection, even when you don’t speak the language.

Favorite quotation: “The perfect is the enemy of the very, very good.”

What I like best about my current position: My CEO — he’s constantly challenging me to find a way to make “it” happen.

Most rewarding extracurricular activity: Time with my family — any time.

Local heroes: Living near Walter Reed Military Hospital, I see them every day but don’t know their names — the courageous young men and women who’ve made terrible sacrifices overseas so all of us can be whole, happy, and safe.