Practitioner Profile: G. Allen Dale
Attorney G. Allen Dale currently practices criminal defense law out of his firm in Washington, D.C., but his interest in the field began when he was a child. Dale recounts growing up with only three television channels, one of which aired the show Perry Mason, a series about a distinguished criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. This interest in criminal defense grew when Dale met his first girlfriend, whose dad was a criminal lawyer at a small firm in his hometown of Morganton, North Carolina. Dale stayed in North Carolina for school and attended Appalachian State to play baseball. After graduating, he planned to go to the University of North Carolina for law school and move back home to Morganton, but he was persuaded to take a gap year and work on the Watergate Committee in Washington, D.C. Senator Sam Ervin, a distant relative of Dale, was the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee that investigated the Watergate scandal, and he played a large role in Dale’s career. Also from Morganton, North Carolina, Senator Ervin considered himself a good old country lawyer, and he became one of Dale’s greatest legal inspirations. After his gap year, Dale decided to stay in the D.C. area and he received his Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center.
Dale also credits Judge Louis Oberdorfer as another great legal inspiration. As a federal judge in the District of Columbia, Judge Oberdorfer helped found the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and he played an important role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Judge Oberdorfer took Dale under his wing and became a mentor and a friend. From both Senator Ervin and Judge Oberdorfer, Dale learned that reputation is the most valuable asset to a criminal attorney, and you gain a positive reputation by being ethical and civil. Dale’s advice to future criminal lawyers: you have mentors all around you, teaching you how to practice, and you should utilize them.
Dale solely practices criminal defense at his firm. He thinks it is important to have a specialty and to perfect it to your best ability. He also thinks it is important to focus on the job at hand: practicing the law. There are too many lawyers worried about protecting themselves, when they should be worried about protecting their clients. Part of the challenge of being a criminal defense attorney is realizing that any slip up can result in your client going to jail for a longer period of time; it is not just money, but it is years of someone’s life that is at stake. Dale says that good attorneys who really care lose a lot of sleep at night worrying about their cases. Empathy is a driving force for many criminal defense attorneys.
Dale mainly works in federal court now, but he also helps a lot of college students who stumble into the criminal system. He finds working with students rewarding because he knows that an arrest can stay with you for life. Some people are fortunate and do not get caught, but not everyone is as lucky. For most criminal cases, unless your client is very wealthy, they are already at a disadvantage, because the prosecutor has all of the resources in the world at their disposal. The right to legal counsel is vital for the criminal defense world and, for that reason, Gideon v. Wainwright is one of Dale’s favorite seminal criminal law cases (Brady v. Maryland is another case he loves, but he thought that one was too obvious).
From white collar crime to death penalty cases, Attorney G. Allen Dale has seen it all. His experience in complex and high-profile cases has earned him a respected reputation in criminal defense that is well-recognized in legal circles and throughout the community. Aside from the law, Dale’s other love is family. He is married to an attorney who has devoted her legal career to voting rights and ensuring equality for the disadvantaged; and he has two adult children, both of whom are professionals, albeit not in the law. To learn more about Dale and his career, please visit his firm’s website at https://www.gallendale.com/.