Here's What Taxes and Tubas Have in Common

Dan Gottlieb shines when it comes to financing public projects or playing in a symphony

Published in 2008 Washington Super Lawyers magazine

By Paul Freeman on July 22, 2008

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When Dan Gottlieb winds down from the demands of his busy legal career, he does it in a big way—by playing the tuba.

“It’s an important part of my personal life and one of the most relaxing things I do,” says Gottlieb, a public finance lawyer with Seattle’s Gottlieb, Fisher & Andrews. “When I’m playing in a musical group, I’m in a completely different world from the day-to-day mess and hassle of a law practice.”

His tuba playing began at age 12, when Gottlieb was in junior high. Choosing the tuba over other instruments, he admits, was opportunistic. He had been taking trombone lessons but wanted to play in the higher-level band. “I could get to the advanced band quicker with the tuba, because the existing tuba player was going to graduate,” he explains. 

Be that as it may, his fondness for the tuba is genuine. He considers it a foundation of an orchestra. “It’s like the bass guitar in a rock band,” he says.

His real job is all about foundations, too—creating sound ones for financing essential public facilities like roads, jails and hospitals. 

Asked how he became a public finance lawyer, Gottlieb has another confession: “I fell into the job.” After law school, he joined Seattle’s Riddell Williams. His first day, a partner enlisted him to help with a bond issue for the Washington Health Care Facilities Authority. It was the maiden financing for the authority, which provides capital to nonprofit health-care providers such as hospitals. Since then, the agency has completed more than 300 financings. “And I’ve worked on about 95 percent of them,” says Gottlieb.

As bond counsel, Gottlieb’s objective is to make sure financing is properly structured so the bonds are binding obligations, then issue a legal opinion to that effect. “Our opinion is our main product,” he says. Without it, the bonds can’t be marketed.

While Gottlieb has no problem voicing his views on financing, when it comes to music, he’s not one for solos. He prefers the camaraderie that comes from playing with groups such as the Seattle Symphonic Band and The Home Town Band, a Kitsap County community group. 

He quips, “You won’t find me sitting outside Qwest Field with my tuba case.”

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