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Spotlight: Dan Le ’97

Meet Daniel Le ’97

For almost six years, Daniel Le has had a solo practice in Minneapolis, blending a background in litigation with transactional practice areas. He office-shares with his two best friends from William Mitchell, who help him when the job gets tough and celebrate with him when he succeeds. Prior to his solo practice, Le worked as an attorney for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, as a community prosecutor for the St. Paul City Attorney’s office, and as assistant city attorney for the city of Maplewood. Le immigrated to the United States in 1975 from Vietnam. He was 4 and did not speak any English. He learned English by watching Sesame Street, he says, and by age 5, he was ready for kindergarten.

 Why volunteer at Mitchell?

I believe in giving back to Mitchell not only financially, but more importantly, with my experience and knowledge of this profession. I believe the students need to understand our profession fully before they step out into practice, and if whatever I can tell them helps, then our profession and their careers will be better for it. This profession is at its best when we are zealous advocates for our clients and when we respect each other.

 What do you value most from your years as a student at Mitchell?

The people I was able to meet, such as President and Dean Eric Janus, the late Professor Mel Goldberg, Professor Bob Oliphant, and students who became lifelong friends.

 Mitchell in three words.

A great start (but not the finish line).

 What has surprised you most about the legal profession? 

How practice requires total focus and drive and that experience is ongoing, and you can never get too good at being an attorney. Always learning.

 When did you first know that you wanted to be a lawyer?

I grew up helping relatives who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam and helped them read and understand documents (government documents, leases, etc.). Bridging the language and societal barriers was a natural thing for me, and that is at the heart of being a lawyer (being able to help people who really need it). Then, in fifth grade social studies at Valentine Hills Elementary School with my teacher Mr. Yeager, he read us a story about Clarence Darrow and his handling of the famous Leopold and Loeb trial, in which the two killers who murdered a little boy escaped the death penalty as a result of his advocacy. That put a title to the job I wanted to do. A Lawyer.

 Who is one of your heroes?

One just doesn’t do it. Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Clarence Darrow, the U.S. Soldier who carried me into the helicopter that led us to safety during the Fall of Saigon, and Dean Janus, to name a few. I get inspiration from so many people.