Daniel P. Watkins is a partner with Clare Locke LLP. His practice consists of high-stakes defamation matters and crisis counseling.

Daniel focuses on seeking justice for the falsely accused and litigating bet-the-company cases. These efforts have yielded some of the largest defamation settlements and verdicts in American history. For example, in 2019 Daniel played an integral role in a defamation trial that resulted in a $23.35 million jury verdict—which is the highest defamation award ever recorded in the state of North Carolina. More recently, Daniel helped clients secure more than $800 million during a five-month span. Daniel and Clare Locke partner Megan Meier led a trial team that obtained a $16 million settlement for a pharmacist-turned venture capitalist who, during a proxy fight, was falsely accused of having been involved in clinical trial fraud. Daniel also served as litigation counsel to Dominion Voting Systems in the historic $787.5 million settlement of its claims against Fox News and Fox Corp., the “largest publicly known defamation settlement in US History involving a media company.

Currently, Daniel represents IoT start up Kytch, Inc. in $900 million litigation against McDonald’s and McFlurry Machine maker Taylor Company. Working alongside Jason Sheasby of Irell Manella LLP, he successfully obtained a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the head of McDonald’s equipment team and overcame several dispositive motions filed against his client.

Through these victories and others, Daniel has developed a reputation as a formidable trial lawyer and zealous advocate for clients. In May 2023 the National Law Journal selected him as a “Rising Star of the Plaintiffs Bar,” and one litigation adversary recently described him as a “force of nature” in the courtroom.

When he isn’t in court, Daniel dedicates much of his time to counseling clients facing extortive, false, and unfair reputational attacks. Daniel’s track record and immersive approach to problem-solving make him a go-to advisor in times of crisis. He has represented governors, general counsels, high-profile whistleblowers, sports franchises and their ownership groups, entrepreneurs, and some of the largest non-profit organizations in the world. He has also killed stories and obtained retractions, corrections, clarifications, and public apologies from ESPNThe Associated PressBloombergThe Washington PostNewsweek, and Consumer Reports, to name a few.

Daniel is a frequent contributor and commentator in various legal periodicals. He is an adjunct professor at William & Mary Law School and will teach disinformation and defamation litigation in the fall. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Daniel’s first courtroom experience came working for the public defender with the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, and he has since argued before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals as an attorney appointed pursuant to the federal Criminal Justice Act. Daniel’s private practice started as a white-collar and commercial litigator at a nationally-ranked law firm before joining Clare Locke in 2016. Since that time, Clare Locke has become recognized as the best plaintiff-side defamation law firm in the United States.

Daniel prioritizes pro bono service, and he has advocated on behalf of marginalized persons in coordination with the Innocence Project, the Legal Aid and Justice Center, Virginia Poverty Law Center, and Housing Opportunities Made Equal. In 2021, Governor Ralph Northam appointed Daniel to serve as a statewide commissioner in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia


University of Virginia School of Law, J.D.


Associate, Williams Mullen, 2012-2016