George Soule always knew he wanted to be a lawyer.
As a young teen in the late 1960s, he became interested in politics. At the time, nearly every politician had a law background. To build a successful political career, he expected to simultaneously build a legal one.
Over a storied career, he has done both.
Soule earned his undergraduate degree from MSUM in 1976 and continued his studies at Harvard Law School. He is a founding partner of his Minneapolis practice and is active in Minnesota politics.
His career also gave him opportunities to explore and celebrate his American Indian heritage.
Soule and his wife, Lisa McDonald, have been generous in financially supporting American Indian students on campus.
Their gifts have funded American Indian student scholarships and needs, in addition to programming through the American Indian Center on campus. The center recently was named in honor of Soule in gratitude for his support.
The George Soule American Indian Center is designed to promote a sense of community among American Indian students. It also serves as a center of knowledge and understanding of traditional and contemporary American Indian culture.
“(Soule’s) gift ensures that financial barriers for our American Indian students will be removed so they can focus on their education,” says Jered Pigeon, campus diversity officer. “It also ensures that the American Indian Center remains viable and collaborative.”
Soule grew up on Big Cormorant Lake in Becker County, Minnesota. He attended MSUM to study political science. Once enrolled, he took an economics class and added that discipline to his studies, as well.
Throughout his college years, he worked part-time for a nearby law firm. He also worked on various political campaigns. His senior year of college, he served as chair of the Clay County Republican Party.
Those experiences cemented his interests in law and politics.
“My mother grew up on the White Earth Reservation, but we didn’t talk about it much.” Soule’s mother passed away when he was a sophomore at MSUM. “After I began practice, I started to get more in touch with my Native roots.”
Friends in the legal community encouraged Soule to join the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association. He served as president of the group for two years.
“I’ve met some of my best friends through MAIBA and had some of my most meaningful experiences through it,” Soule says. “It also connected me to Minnesota’s tribes.”
Today, in addition to practicing law through the firm he co-founded, Soule is a tribal appellate judge for the White Earth Nation and three other Minnesota tribes.
Along his professional journey, Soule has given back in more ways than financial gifts. He has served on MSUM’s foundation board and is currently on the board of trustees of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. He has been appointed to numerous public boards, including the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board and the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection.
While Soule was a student at MSUM, his father began working at the university as a janitor. He cleaned the floors of the Comstock Memorial Union, the building where the center named for Soule now resides. Soule’s father died when he was in law school.
Even though Soule lost both parents at young ages, he lifts up their legacy.
“I’m thankful for the support they gave me,” he says. “I’m fortunate that I can contribute in a way that helps others and honors the ways my parents encouraged me.”
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