Portrait of Michael S. McGinniss

Michael S. McGinniss

  • Dean, School of Law
    • Professional Responsibility, Advanced Legal Ethics, Evidence, Conflict of Laws, Remedies

Contact Info

Office Address

Law School Room 200
215 Centennial Drive Stop 9003
Grand Forks, ND 58202-9003


Michael S. McGinniss is the Dean and Associate Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota School of Law, where he joined the faculty in 2010 and has taught courses on Professional Responsibility, Evidence, Conflict of Laws, Remedies, and Advanced Legal Ethics.  He also served for three years as a founding co-coordinator for the UND School of Law’s team-taught first-year course, Professional Foundations.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English (summa cum laude and first in his class) at Washington College.  He received his legal education at the College of William & Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law, where he graduated third in his class and was inducted into the Order of the Coif.  Upon graduation from law school, he served as the law clerk for Honorable Randy J. Holland of the Supreme Court of Delaware.  He then was associated for four years with the Delaware law firm Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP, where his practice focused on intellectual property litigation in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. 

In 1998, the Supreme Court of Delaware appointed Dean McGinniss to its Office of Disciplinary Counsel. During his twelve years of service as Disciplinary Counsel, he was responsible for the evaluation, investigation, and prosecution of lawyer disciplinary matters before the Court and its Board on Professional Responsibility.  He was also responsible for evaluating, investigating and prosecuting matters involving the unauthorized practice of law by non-lawyers, and presenting hearings before the Board of Bar Examiners involving the character and fitness of applicants to the Delaware Bar.  He is a member of the bars of Delaware, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, and the United States Supreme Court.

At the UND School of Law, Dean McGinniss has been honored annually with the J. Philip Johnson Faculty Fellow Award, given to promote professional responsibility, leadership and ethics, both in the legal profession and in the community.  He is serving his third three-year term as a member of the North Dakota Joint Committee on Attorney Standards, and in January 2018 was appointed to serve a two-year term as Chair.  He currently serves as the President of the Randy H. Lee American Inn of Court, and he is a member of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies, including its Professional Responsibility & Legal Education, Religious Liberties, and Free Speech & Election Law practice groups.  He authored and published A Tribute to Justice Antonin Scalia, 92 N.D. L. Rev. 1 (2016), based on remarks he presented at a Federalist Society event at the School of Law in April 2016.

Dean McGinniss’ research and scholarship interests have focused on questions concerning the professional, ethical, and moral responsibilities of lawyers.  His most recent law review article, Expressing Conscience with Candor: Saint Thomas More and First Freedoms in the Legal Profession, was published in 2019 in Volume 42 of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which is Harvard Law’s top-ranked specialty journal.  His invited book chapter Advice in the Lawyer-Client Relationship was published in 2018 by Oxford University Press in the Oxford Handbook of Advice.  He also presented this research in the 2018 Mart Vogel Lecture on Professionalism and Legal Ethics at the SBAND Annual Meeting in Bismarck.  He presented his article The Character of Codes: Preserving Spaces for Personal Integrity in Lawyer Regulation, 29 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 559 (2016) at the 2016 Symposium of the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics.  His 2016 Mart Vogel Lecture on Professionalism and Legal Ethics, featured his lead article Breaking Faith: Machiavelli and Moral Risks in Lawyer Negotiation, 91 N.R. L. Rev. 247 (2015).  His 2013 article Virtue and Advice: Socratic Perspectives on Lawyer Independence and Moral Counseling of Clients was selected to be the lead article in Volume 1, Issue 1 of the Texas A&M Law Review.  His essay Apprenticing for a Flourishing Life in the Law: The Virtues of Judicial Clerkship appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of the American Inns of Court’s flagship publication, The Bencher. 

Shortly after joining the UND School of Law faculty, Dean McGinniss presented the 2011 Vogel Lecture, entitled Virtue Ethics, Earnestness, and the Deciding Lawyer: Human Flourishing in a Legal Community.  His article based on the Lecture was subsequently published in 87 N.D. L. Rev. 19 (2011).  In 2013, his article entitled Sending the Message: Using Technology to Support Judicial Reporting of Lawyer Misconduct to State Disciplinary Agencies was published in the Journal of the Professional Lawyer, the peer-reviewed academic journal of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility.  He has also published legal scholarship addressing the regulation of multi-jurisdictional practice and the unauthorized practice of law. 

In 2013, Dean McGinniss received a UND Foundation North Dakota Spirit Faculty Achievement Award, and he has been nominated for the UND Outstanding Faculty Scholar Award (2013) and the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award (2014).  He was initiated as an Honorary Member of Phi Delta Phi, Bruce Inn in March 2018, and he has been honored by our students selecting him as the Graduation Banquet speaker in 2012 and 2019 and as a Commencement Hooder each May 2012 through 2019.

Dean McGinniss and his wife Maureen are parishioners of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks, ND, where they reside.