When Dan Gustafson started his own firm a decade ago, he aimed to continue fighting for plaintiffs facing antitrust issues while tackling a healthy dose of federal pro se work. He certainly has met those goals. His firm, Gustafson Gluek, enjoys a national caseload as a powerhouse in individual and class-action antitrust cases, and its 15 lawyers have donated thousands of pro bono hours.
Gustafson often faces off against big name law firms representing the likes of Sony, Comcast, Medtronic, and SmithKline Beecham in antitrust and patent matters. With an undergraduate degree in economics, Gustafson found antitrust to be a natural fit when he started practicing more than 20 years ago. Today, he gets referrals from all over the country for individual and class action claims.
Gustafson has been heavily involved with launching and participating in the Minnesota Federal Bar Association’s Pro Se Project to ensure individuals’ access to the federal courts. Through this and his experience with class actions, Gustafson was asked to represent the nearly 700 people who are committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.
In December he urged a federal judge to declare the program unconstitutional and modify it, including appointing a special master for oversight and providing less restrictive treatments for qualifying offenders. Gustafson, along with law partner Karla Gluek and others, spent countless hours on the case, driven by his core belief that everyone deserves access to legal representation.
“Sex offenders aren’t a particularly popular group of people, and that spurs my interest,” Gustafson said. “I’ve always been of the view that if we can’t protect the constitutional rights of those kinds of people, it puts us all at risk.”
In the same vein, he encourages his co-workers to take at least one pro bono case a year, and he practices what he preaches. “Lawyers are a pretty lucky bunch of people, and they have an obligation to do something to help the administration of justice,” said Gustafson. “It’s satisfying to help someone who would otherwise struggle to find someone to take their case.”