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Fredrikson & Byron lawyer James E. Dorsey received the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota’s 18th Annual Earl Larson Award at the Minneapolis Club on November 20, 2014. The award honors the work of members of the Minnesota legal profession who have excelled in their commitment to preserving civil liberties. The first award winner was Judge Earl Larson, who founded the Minnesota affiliate of the ACLU. Previous recipients include Walter Mondale, the Honorable Rosalie Wahl, and the Honorable Jonathan Lebedoff.

“Jim Dorsey has always been a strong protector of civil liberties in Minnesota, and is very deserving of this award,” said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. “He has fought for so many people who would have been otherwise voiceless, standing up for their rights even if it was an unpopular viewpoint.”

Over the course of his 33 year career, Dorsey has represented indigent clients on a pro-bono basis in cases involving family law, juvenile protection, debtor/creditor, landlord/tenant and contract disputes. He has also worked on larger pro-bono cases for the ACLU (challenging the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment which ties federal tuition assistance to draft registration), the ACLU-MN (challenging the state sodomy law), and the NAACP (dispersing concentrated and segregated public housing), several death penalty cases, a Guantanamo Bay detainee case, and a case involving voting rights.

In addition to serving on various non-profit boards, Dorsey was a founder of, and has been the board chair of, the Advocates for Human Rights. He has done human rights work in or involving Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, South Africa, Liberia, Uganda and China.

Currently, Dorsey is serving as the conference director for “Minnesota 2015: Democracy for a Sustainable Future,” at which Minnesota will host the Club of Madrid, an organization comprising nearly 100 democratically elected former heads of state. The goal of MN2015 will be to develop and promulgate ways in which democratic governments, business, and civil society should work together to solve sustainability challenges.

The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is a non-profit organization founded in 1952 with a mission to protect the civil liberties of all Minnesotans through litigation, public education and lobbying. For more information, visit

Fredrikson & Byron is a 275-attorney law firm based in Minneapolis, with offices in Bismarck, Des Moines, Fargo, St. Paul, Monterrey, Mexico, and Shanghai, China. Fredrikson & Byron has a reputation as the firm “where law and business meet”. Our attorneys bring business acumen and entrepreneurial thinking to work with clients, and operate as business advisors and strategic partners, as well as legal counselors. More information about the firm is available at Follow us on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FredriksonLaw.


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