One day when Michael J. Galvin was a school boy in Preston, Minnesota, his class was taken to the county courthouse to hear Archibald D. Gray, a legendary trial lawyer in Southeastern Minnesota, address a jury. That brief experience changed his life: he would become a lawyer.
He graduated from the Winona High School in 1918, served a few weeks in the army, worked for a railroad in Iowa for two years, entered Creighton University Law School in Omaha in the fall of 1922 and graduated in May 1925. He took the bar examination, passed and was inducted by the Nebraska Supreme Court on June 16, 1925. He was now a lawyer--and at the beginning of what became an esteemed life in the law.
He started for home in a used car and $20 in his pocket. After a few years working for Frank Larabee in Minneapolis, he returned to Winona, opened his own shop and married Margaret O'Donahue in February 1928. Seven months later he became Special Judge of the Municipal Court. The next two decades were a whirlwind of activity--raising a family, building a law practice, helping veterans, investing in real estate and local businesses and taking leadership roles in community organizations and the county and state bar associations. All the while he was trying cases in state and federal courts. In 1928, he ran for the state senate and lost, but was elected in 1934, 1938 and 1942. During those twelve years in office, he sponsored major reform legislation on such diverse subjects as labor relations, real estate titles and unemployment insurance.
In 1946, his last year in the senate, he served as President of the Minnesota State Bar Association. That year he moved with his family to St. Paul to become the general counsel of the Minnesota railroad association. In that capacity he defended accident suits brought by employees of railroads and lobbied the state legislature on railroad matters. In 1966 he retired.
In 1990, at the age of ninety, Michael Galvin Sr., wrote the story of his life. It is packed to the brim with colorful anecdotes, memorable characters, tales of lawsuits won and lost, accounts of taming the legislature process and, at the center, his family. It is a lawyer's life, an American life.
It is posted right here: