A graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, John Edward Harrigan was admitted to the bar on August 30, 1930. After serving as house counsel for Travelers Insurance Company, he returned to Stillwater, his hometown, in 1944 and entered into a partnership with Karl Neumeier. In 1954 he opened his own shop and two years later joined with Robert Walter to form Harrigan & Walter. He died on September 20, 1957, at age fifty-one. In memorial services two weeks later by the county bar association, he was recalled:
"As a lawyer who possessed that rare faculty of applying correct legal principles to the case in hand; who had a great ability in presenting both law and facts to Court and Jury; as a student who arrived at conclusions only after patient and thorough investigation, it followed as a natural course that the talents of Mr. Harrigan became well known throughout the area and he was in demand as a lawyer, counsellor and advocate. . . .
"This Court is familiar with the splendid services performed by Mr. Harrigan as a lawyer representing his many clients. Above all, this Court doubtlessly appreciated that Mr. Harrigan was at all times perfectly frank and never attempted to gain any mean advantage for a client. He advocated and supported only an honest cause and strove to prevail through diligence and hard work. His integrity reflected credit to the County, State and National Bar Associations and he was everywhere respected as an honorable counsel. He held high the ethics of his profession and the profession honored him for it."