ALUMNI PROFILE David P. McKinney (JD ’11)
Protecting civil rights
David P. McKinney (JD ’11) joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota in 2018 as the Charles Samuelson Constitutional Crisis Staff Attorney. In this role, he works to protect and expand civil rights and constitutional liberties for people throughout Minnesota through litigation, legislation, and community engagement. Prior to joining the ACLU, David practiced complex commercial litigation. His legal and community work have been recognized by a number of awards including Minnesota Rising Star by Super Lawyers, Top 40 Under 40 by The National Black Lawyers, and Up & Coming Attorney by Minnesota Lawyer.
Why did you decide to attend law school at Loyola University Chicago?
I chose to attend Loyola for a number of reasons including its reputation, excellent litigation training program, Jesuit values, commitment to social justice, significant alumni network, and Chicago location.
What do you like most about your work with the ACLU’s legal department?
Our commitment to answering a central question that is both challenging and rewarding—how can we use the law and our legal training to protect and advance constitutional liberties and civil rights, especially for women, indigenous and people of color, those with disabilities, and individuals who identify as LGBTQ.
What is most challenging?
There is so much work to do because people’s rights are constantly in jeopardy and it’s sometimes difficult to know the right path forward or whether the legal strategy we’ve chosen is the right one.
“Loyola impressed upon me the importance of being ethical, acting responsibly, and serving the public good.”
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the courage and persistence of marginalized people who wake up every morning trying to achieve “The American Dream” despite a system that favors the rich and well connected. I’m inspired by their stories of struggle as they work to overcome inequalities in healthcare, housing, education, and employment. Hearing their stories resonates in part with my own journey. I am also reminded that my public interest legal work matters, and that I can make a difference.
How did your legal education at Loyola prepare you for your job?
I chose Loyola for a number of reasons including its reputation, excellent litigation training program, Jesuit values, commitment to social justice, significant alumni network, and Chicago location. Beyond teaching me the substantive coursework, and how to “think like a lawyer,” Loyola impressed upon me the importance of being ethical, acting responsibily, and serving the public good.
What advice would you give a law student who is about to graduate and launch a legal career?
I would suggest that new law school graduates think about the power of the law and the awesome responsibility they have to use it wisely and to serve others. After graduating from Loyola, I practiced complex commercial litigation for many years in the private sector and donated my time and talents on a pro bono basis to public interest work. Where you start is not where you have to finish. A law degree opens many doors, so my best advice is to be open and flexible about the many possibilities ahead.
Chicago or Minneapolis?
I’m a South-sider through and through, and most of my family still lives there. Chicago is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest cities in the world. But, I also love the people, lakes, bike paths, work-life balance, and accessibility to high-quality healthcare and education in Minnesota. Plus my wife and daughter live here!