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Attorneys of the Year: John Gordon

Dan Heilman//February 14, 2019

Attorneys of the Year: John Gordon

Dan Heilman//February 14, 2019

In the current political climate, it seems that the subject of human rights comes up more and more. It was that growing crisis that led John Gordon to eschew retirement and write a second chapter to a long and distinguished legal career.

After 40 years as a trial lawyer at Faegre Baker Daniels, Gordon briefly retired before taking over as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. He has taken on that role at a time when issues such as voting rights, police abuses and unlawful detention of immigrants have caused the caseload of the ACLU to swell.

Gordon was named to the interim executive director post of the ACLU-MN in early 2017, and the title became official that October. Since then he has guided ACLU-MN through growth in membership and support that was partly the result of the 2016 presidential election.

“I found the opportunity irresistible,” said Gordon. “At this point in history, having a part in the organization’s community outreach and legislative agenda, as well as its legal aspect, is very rewarding.”

In the process, he has helped institute many new legal, legislative, and community organizing initiatives in the organization. Among those are a voter information drive that focuses attention on county attorney races, and community organizing efforts that raise awareness of constitutional and voting rights in underserved communities.

“John had provided a model of professional leadership in revitalizing the ACLU of Minnesota at a time of national need,” said one colleague.

Gordon said ACLU-MN’s main priorities under his leadership are promoting racial justice, promoting personal liberties, preventing abuse of immigrants, and providing access to voting.

How long will he stay on?

“As long as I can contribute and as long as it feeds my soul,” Gordon said. “There’s no timetable.”


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