John Nordin emigrated from Sweden in 1890 while still a teenager. He learned stone cutting and his earnings from that trade financed his way through the University of Minnesota Law Department. He graduated in 1898, was admitted to the bar and practiced in Minneapolis for the next four decades. He died on December 12, 1939, at age sixty-eight. In memorial proceedings for the Hennepin County Bar Association the following year, he was recalled with admiration as a "zealous advocate" for his clients:
"The foundation of his success at the bar is largely due to his endless capacity for hard work. He never spared himself. The days were not long enough to dull his energy for work.
"He was at home in both court and office. Very resourceful in practice, ambitious to win, he kept a zealous regard for the interests of his clients, whose cases he prepared with endless investigation of fact and law.
"He was of the advocate type, the delight of his clients. Wherever possible he carried the battle foray into the quarters of his adversary, always trying to gain his point, returning attack for attack. Even after defeat he persistently sought some expedient to turn it into a victory for his client."