Attorney General-elect Ellison names John Keller Chief Deputy Attorney General

Long-time executive director of Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota to assist Ellison in helping Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity

December 27, 2018 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Minnesota Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison today announced that he has named John Keller to serve as Minnesota’s Chief Deputy Attorney General.

“For many years, John has successfully managed and grown a well-respected non-profit legal practice that has helped people of all backgrounds navigate complex areas of the law so that they can afford their lives, reach new dreams, and live with dignity. He brings to the Attorney General’s Office a unique combination of deep grassroots understanding of the struggles that all Minnesotans face, and deep connection to and recognition from the legal community in Minnesota and across the country. I can think of no one better suited to help me serve the people of Minnesota,” Ellison said.

John Keller began his work at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota in 1998 as a staff attorney and later as legal director. ILCM is a nonprofit agency that provides immigration legal assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. Since 2005 he has been ILCM’s executive director. In that time, he has transformed ILCM from a small, regional legal-services organization with five staff to Minnesota’s leading provider of free, high-quality, and comprehensive legal, policy, and education services with five offices statewide, 32 employees — a majority of whom are from immigrant, refugee, or mixed-family backgrounds — more than 350 trained pro bono attorneys, and a statewide and national reputation. In recent years, ILCM’s work has been commended by both the state and national American Immigration Bar Associations, the Minnesota State Bar Association, and Minnesota Lawyer, among others.

Keller grew up on a small Minnesota family dairy farm. The first lawyer in his family, he received his law degree from Hamline University in 1996. He worked at the League of Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota Court of Appeals before joining ILCM. He is admitted to the Minnesota Supreme Court, the United States District Court, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Keller has twice been named Minnesota Lawyer’s Attorney of the Year and has been honored with the American Immigration Lawyers Association Human Rights Award, the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association Access to Justice Award, and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Excellence in Advocacy Award. The Minnesota Senate appointed Keller to the Legislature’s Ethnic Heritage and New American Working Group.

“I am honored to help implement Keith Ellison’s vision as chief deputy attorney general. It represents the perfect opportunity to continue on a larger scale the work to which I’ve dedicated my professional life: helping to transform lives and strengthen our democratic and legal systems and protections,” Keller said.

The Chief Deputy Attorney General serves as the number-two attorney in the Office of the Attorney General. As Chief Deputy, Keller will work with deputies and managers to implement the Attorney General’s vision of helping Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity. The Chief Deputy assists the Attorney General in managing the lawyers and legal assistants who provide legal representation for the State of Minnesota’s agencies, boards, and constitutional officers, and who protect the people of Minnesota from consumer fraud, anti-trust price fixing, and other unfair, discriminatory, or other unlawful practices in business, commerce, or trade. As Chief Deputy, Keller will also help fulfill the Attorney General’s pledge of providing increased assistance to county attorneys, particularly in Greater Minnesota.

Keith Ellison will be sworn in as Minnesota’s 30th attorney general on January 7, 2019.

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