Junior Achievement Special Section
Junior Achievement Special Section
An Alaskan New Yorker
Senior Vice President and General Counsel, First National Bank Alaska, Retired
Editor’s Note: The following bio was generously provided by First National Bank Alaska.


orn and raised in New York City, David Lawer came to Alaska in 1971 to work on a construction crew to help pay his way through college and law school. After graduating from law school, he returned to Alaska and in late 1976 entered private practice law in Anchorage.

Over the course of the next seventeen years, Lawer—who specialized in banking and finance—represented more than thirty banks, mortgage companies, and insurance companies with investments in Alaska. In 1993 he left the practice to become senior vice president and general counsel of First National Bank Alaska (FNBA), his principal client for many years.

At FNBA, Lawer supervised human resources and the bank’s risk management and insurance programs, as well as central loan processing activities. His duties also included supervision of the bank’s regulatory compliance efforts, its employee benefits program, and legal and legislative affairs.

Now retired from banking, Lawer continues to volunteer in support of the community and the Red Cross of Alaska. He telephoned scores of Alaskans during this past summer’s wildfires to thank donors and volunteers for helping make a difference. Nonprofits that he supports share that he has always been an active member, not just contributing financial support but always showing up to serve as a mentor for others on how to truly give back.

Lawer is well-known throughout the community for his larger-than-life personality. He is always thoughtful in his choice of words and direct and to the point when providing advice. As an “Alaskan New Yorker,” Lawer continues to be a proud Yankees fan with a great sense of humor.

Asked today what his crowning accomplishments are, he shares that he was fortunate to meet a beautiful Alaskan girl and be in the Last Frontier just as the pipeline days were starting. Most importantly, he and his wife raised a successful daughter, also an attorney and active community volunteer, who has made him the grandfather of two wonderful grandchildren.

Lawer’s History of Community Service
American Lung Association of Alaska, Former Director and President Board of Trustees, Alaska Regional Hospital, Former Director American Red Cross of Alaska Advisory Board, Member since 2007 Alaska Support Industry Alliance, Former Director and President Kachemak Bay Shellfish Association, Former Advisor and Director University of Alaska Anchorage, College of Fellows
A Q&A with Junior Achievement:

Junior Achievement: How did you get your start?
David Lawer: I applied for a lot of jobs so that I could afford to go to college.

JA: What was your family life and upbringing like?
Lawer: We all worked and had different jobs. My father was a great guy; we did everything together. We worked together. We golfed together. We played ball together. Because I got home earlier than everyone else, I was responsible for making dinner. I followed my mother’s (who was a very good cook) instructions, and that’s how I learned to cook—throughout my life, I have enjoyed cooking for friends and family.

JA: What opportunities led to the early success of your business?
Lawer: Having a variety of work experiences, a good education, and a law degree. I was fortunate to be in Alaska just as the pipeline was starting. There were opportunities for anyone, not just young lawyers, who were smart and willing to work hard.

JA: Do you believe there is value in educating young people about free enterprise?
Lawer: Absolutely. It teaches them about profit and loss, the value of hard work, and the reward of contributing to their community.

JA: What can schools and parents do to ensure that young people don’t encounter financial pitfalls?
Lawer: Encourage them to get a job early in life, to save, and to learn about investments.

JA: What can the business community offer to young people?
Lawer: Good entry level jobs and training that will lead to career opportunities.

JA: Did you have a role model growing up?
Lawer: My role model was my Dad. Young people benefit from role models by developing good work ethics, learn honesty and integrity, and the value of contributing to the community.

JA: What can we do to prepare young people to succeed in a global economy?
Lawer: Support Junior Achievement. It inspires and prepares young people to succeed.

JA: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Lawer: Putting myself through college, achieving my law degree, successfully putting my education to work, and raising an outstanding daughter, who has become an accomplished young woman.

JA: What do you want your legacy to be?
Lawer: “He worked hard, contributed to his community, and was a dependable friend.”