Daniel Ichinaga
Daniel Ichinaga
Photo courtesy of Daniel Ichinaga

Not many people would describe “worry” as a privilege. But for top-rated business attorney Daniel Ichinaga ’80, practicing law is having the privilege to “worry with people.”

Ichinaga, who has achieved the highest possible rating from the international law directory Martindale-Hubbell, works in the business section of Seattle law firm Ellis, Li & McKinstry PLLC. Ichinaga helps individuals, nonprofits, and businesses with a variety of legal issues — everything from employment and regulatory issues to company mergers and business sales or acquisitions. Ichinaga’s nonprofit clients include institutions of higher education and faith-based organizations. 

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, Ichinaga assumed he would attend a leading university in California for his undergraduate degree. But a friend who had just graduated from Seattle Pacific counseled him to consider attending a Christian university for at least a couple of years. 

Ichinaga followed that advice and enrolled at SPU, expecting to transfer after two years. That plan changed his sophomore year after he attended the American Studies program in Washington, D.C. 

One unit focused on the idea of Christian higher education and the work of integrating faith and learning. That inspired him. “I saw that we can study everything and look at it through this lens of faith,” he said. “It altered the trajectory of my life.” 

For Ichinaga, working in law wasn’t just a career goal anymore; it became a calling and a way to serve others. He graduated from SPU with a double major in business and political science and went on to earn his law degree from the University of California, Davis. Today, Ichinaga has practiced law for more than 40 years.

“I saw that we can study everything and look at it through this lens of faith. It altered the trajectory of my life.” 

— DANIEL ICHINAGA ’80

A large part of Ichinaga’s job is counseling clients facing tough business or personal decisions. “Often, this involves listening to their fears, hopes, and goals, and then helping them understand their choices so they can make an informed decision,” Ichinaga said. “I must listen first before I can provide wise counsel.” 

In these situations, Ichinaga is thankful SPU taught him to not just be a competent, skillful lawyer, but to pursue a life of character. 

“SPU challenged me to consider, ‘How do I develop the cardinal virtues of wisdom, self-control, courage, and justice, and the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love?ʼ” he said. “We must release our ego and the need to be right or to have our own way. It’s a regenerative journey with the help of the Holy Spirit.

“My purpose in law is to help people,” Ichinaga said. “When people feel heard, understood, and know that somebody is standing by them, we give them hope.” 

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