Lee McGrath


Legislative Counsel and Managing Attorney of the Institute for Justice Minnesota Office

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Lee McGrath is the Managing Attorney of the Institute for Justice Minnesota office and serves as IJ’s Legislative Counsel.  He joined the Institute in December 2004 and litigates cutting-edge constitutional cases protecting economic liberty, school choice, private property, freedom of speech and other individual liberties in both federal and state courts in Minnesota and nationally.  Minnesota Lawyer recognized McGrath as one of 2006’s Up and Coming Attorneys.

Under his leadership, the Institute for Justice Minnesota has launched a successful campaign to restore economic liberty as a basic civil right under both the Minnesota State and U.S. Constitutions.  IJ-MN successfully freed African hairbraiders from the State of Minnesota’s onerous cosmetology licensing regime, successfully stopped the government from enforcing a blanket ban on advertising, soliciting or using the Internet to conduct lawful, direct sales of wine, and forced the City of Red Wing to end its ban on interstate ship of trash.

Lee was also instrumental in lobbying the Minnesota legislature to reform its eminent domain laws in 2006 and deregulate intrastate household goods movers in 2008. Lee became IJ’s legislative counsel in 2011 and has been instrumental in lobbying for greater economic liberty and reforms to forfeiture laws in states across the country.

Lee received his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul where he was the president of the local Federalist Society chapter.  Before that, Lee worked for more than 20 years in corporate finance at General Motors and other corporations.  His last position was as Vice President and Treasurer of Jostens, the yearbook and ring company headquartered in Bloomington, Minn.

In addition to his law degree, Lee holds an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.  Lee was also a Policy Fellow at the Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota.

Lee and his wife Bonnie have four children and live in Edina, Minn.

Past Cases

In the News

Research and Reports

  • January 1, 2014    |    Scholarly Articles

    One of the significant challenges facing licensing professionals is striking the most effective, efficient and just balance between regulation of occupations and preserving occupational practice free from unnecessary government restrictions. As discussed in greater detail below, there are at least two reasons—legal and economic—why finding such a balance is important. The first—legal—grows out of the…

  • January 1, 2013    |    Strategic Research

    A Stacked Deck

    How Minnesota's Civil Forfeiture Laws Put Citizens' Property at Risk

    State data show that from 2003 to 2010, forfeiture revenue in Minnesota jumped 75 percent, even as crime rates declined, and the average value of forfeited property was only $1,000.

  • January 1, 2013    |    Strategic Research

    Rotten Reporting in the Peach State

    Civil Forfeiture in Georgia Leaves the Public in the Dark

    Georgia has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws in the nation, a problem compounded by law enforcement agencies’ routine failure to report forfeiture revenue and expenditures as required by law. But a 2011 Institute for Justice lawsuit forced some agencies to begin filing reports, and a new requirement that agencies post these reports online…

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