Lee McGrath

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Senior 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’s Minnesota office and serves as IJ’s Senior Legislative Counsel. He joined the Institute in December 2004.

Lee was instrumental in lobbying the Minnesota legislature to reform its eminent domain laws in 2006 following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. New London. He also led efforts to deregulate Minnesota’s transportation industry. These included repealing the state’s regulations of in-state household goods movers and the City of Minneapolis’ cap on taxis. Following Minneapolis’ opening the taxi market, Lee joined with other IJ attorneys to defend the deregulation in court. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit’s decision in Minneapolis Taxi Owners Coalition v. City of Minneapolis in 2009 set precedent that numerous federal circuits have adopted.

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. Since 2011, IJ has worked with legislators to enact over 75 bills. These include new laws that end civil forfeiture and replace it with criminal forfeiture as well as establish sunrise and sunset reviews of occupational licensing laws based on the concept of least restrictive regulation.

Lee received his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul where he was the president of the Federalist Society’s student 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 also was a Policy Fellow at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

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

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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