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Donald M. Lewis, Esq.

Donald M. Lewis, Esq.

General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Civil Rights
Class Action and Mass Tort
Education Law
Governmental Public Agency
Health Care
Higher Education - JAMS Solutions
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education


Donald M. Lewis, Esq., joins JAMS following a distinguished career as co-founder and shareholder of Nilan Johnson Lewis in Minneapolis, where his practice focused on complex employment litigation and internal investigations. Business entities and government agencies frequently engaged Mr. Lewis to lead sensitive, high-profile investigations, often involving allegations of executive fraud or other misconduct. His practice also included white collar criminal defense, health care litigation and alternative dispute resolution.

Mr. Lewis began his career at the U.S. Department of Justice. He was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., before serving as an assistant U.S. attorney in Minneapolis. During a five-year break from private practice, he served as dean of Hamline University School of Law. As a board member in the health care sector, he was board and governance chair for HealthPartners and governance chair for Park Nicollet Health Services.

Throughout his career, Mr. Lewis has resolved critical and sensitive predicaments, often in public view, and his reputation has given credibility to the solutions he has crafted. As both an advocate and mediator, he has promoted early negotiated solutions as offering the best chance for maintaining business relationships, restoring faith in institutions and improving personal well-being. 

Representative Matters

Except where otherwise noted, Mr. Lewis served as a party advocate on the following matters:


  • Lansdale v. UPS (disability discrimination), 2019
  • Sellner v. MAT Industries (whistleblower retaliation), 2018
  • Hayes v. Special School District No. 1 (employment discrimination/defamation), 2008
  • Paul Travelers v. One Beacon (nonsolicitation injunction), 2006
  • United States v. Stagni (criminal tax), 2006
  • Jones v. The St. Paul Companies (employment discrimination), 2005
  • United States v. Radtke (criminal tax), 2003
  • Hulsey v. Minneapolis Public Schools (drug testing), 2001
  • Mitchell v. Ford Motor Company (personal injury), 1996
  • Graham v. Special School District No. 1 (whistleblower), 1994
  • Dunham v. Special School District No. 1 (employment discrimination), 1994
  • THS Northstar v. W.R. Grace (asbestos property damage), 1994

Employment Litigation

  • Deering v. Lockheed Martin Corporation (employment discrimination/retaliation), 2023
  • EEOC v. Target Corporation (age discrimination commissioner’s charge), 2019
  • Freckleton/Just v. Target Corporation (FCRA class action), 2017
  • EEOC (Hill) v. Target Corporation (employment discrimination in Philadelphia), 2007
  • EEOC (Stanley) v. Target Corporation (employment discrimination in Milwaukee), 2007
  • Black v. Target Corporation (employment discrimination), 2000

Other Litigation Matters

  • Management Registry Inc. v. Brown (employment arbitration), 2022
  • Borden and Jefferson County School District v. Millennium Inorganic Chemicals (Mississippi lead paint litigation), 2001–2005
  • Minnesota Attorney General v. Dey Inc. (pharmaceutical pricing fraud), 2003
  • Ince v. Health Partners (health care subrogation), 1999
  • Gundacker v. Lockheed Martin Corp. (FCA whistleblower), 2000
  • Hollman v. Cisneros and Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (racial segregation in public housing), 1995
  • Sweeney v. Unisys Corp. (wrongful death), 1991

Labor Matters

  • Supervised election and mediated recognition agreement between SEIU and Target Corporation’s building maintenance vendors, 2015
  • Represented ACLU-MN and Minnesota Freedom Fund in negotiating recognition and collective bargaining agreements, 2020-2021

Investigations and Special Appointments

  • Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman Investigation, 2019
  • Hennepin Healthcare EMS Ketamine Review, 2018–2019
  • Walker Art Center Scaffold Review, 2017–2018
  • University of Minnesota Regents investigations, 2017–2018
  • Special Prosecutor, Jeronimo Yanez-Philando Castile Investigation, 2016
  • City of Minneapolis Al Flowers Arrest Investigation, 2014
  • General Counsel to the Independent Lay Task Force Appointed by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, 2013–2014
  • Lilydale Regional Park Landslide Investigation, 2013
  • Special Prosecutor/Thomas Berkelman, 2001
  • University of Minnesota Men’s Basketball Investigation (academic fraud), 1999–2000

Criminal Prosecutions

  • As assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota, tried approximately 25 cases to jury verdict

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, American Employment Law Council, 2004–2023
  • Co-Founder and Member, Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, 1995–2023
  • Member, Board of Governors, National Bar Association, 1992–1995
  • Member, National Association of College and University Attorneys, 1996–2023
  • Member, National Employment Law Council, 1998–2023
  • Member and Chair of Board of Directors, AMICUS, 1993–2007
  • Member, Monitors Club, 2000–2023
  • Member, Governance Chair and Chair of Board of Directors; HealthPartners, 2013–2018
  • Member; Governance Chair, Board of Directors; Park Nicollet Health Services; 2008–2013
  • Member, Sigma Pi Phi, Omicron Boule, 1999–2023
  • Member, Advisory Board, University of Minnesota Health Law and Life Sciences Joint Degree Program, 2005–2008
  • Member, Board of Trustees, William Mitchell College of Law, 2006–2008

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Richard Sheppard Arnold Award for Distinguished Service, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 2023
  • Profiles in Courage, Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL), 2018
  • Outstanding Director, HealthPartners Board of Directors, Twin Cities Business, 2018
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, American Law Institute and American Bar Foundation
  • Honoree, National Black Prosecutors Association Founder’s Award, 2011
  • Honoree, Minnesota Super Lawyers, 1997–2007, 2017–2023
  • Attorney of the Year, Minnesota Lawyer, 2000

Background and Education

  • Founding Shareholder and Senior Attorney; Nilan, Johnson, Lewis, P.A.; 1996–2023
  • Dean, Hamline University School of Law, 2008–2013
  • Shareholder and Senior Attorney, Popham Haik Schnobrich & Kaufman, 1988–1996
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Minnesota, 1982–1988
  • Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 1978–1982
  • J.D., Harvard Law School, 1978
  • B.S., Journalism, With Distinction, Northwestern University, 1975


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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