Hamline News

Dan Lew JD '95 becomes Minnesota's first Asian-Pacific American Chief Public Defender

Dan Lew JD '95

Daniel Lew JD ’95 has been named chief public defender for the Sixth Judicial District by the Minnesota Board of Public Defenders. He is the first Asian-Pacific American to be named to the post in Minnesota and only the fourth in the entire country. 

The Sixth Judicial District covers nearly 14,000 square miles in the northeast part of Minnesota, with the Lake Superior port city of Duluth at its heart. Lew will oversee a team of 30 lawyers and 10 professional staff who provide public defense in six counties and six courthouses. Lew will be only the third chief public defender in the Sixth District. His predecessor, Fred Friedman, the second chief in the district, left the office at the end of March after a nearly 40-year career as a public defender.

Lew began his public service career in 1996 with the Minnesota Public Defender’s Office as an assistant public defender in Duluth and later relocated to its Saint Paul offices. In December 2006, he returned to Duluth to serve as the managing attorney for the Sixth District Public Defender's Office. Lew managed public defender services for northeastern Minnesota and supervised attorneys and other professional staff, all preparing for his new post as chief of the office. Lew, a native of Queens, N.Y., is the son of Chinese immigrant parents. Lew is a graduate of the City University of New York at Queens College and a 1995 graduate of Hamline University School of Law in Saint Paul, Minn.