Timothy Q. Purdon


Tim Purdon

Timothy Q. Purdon


Co-Chair, American Indian Law and Policy Group;
Co-Chair, Government and Internal Investigations Group;
Co-Chair, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
Tim Purdon


Former United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota, Tim Purdon has made his career leading complex criminal investigations and high stakes civil litigation from both the plaintiff and defense counsel’s table.  His path has uniquely positioned him to rewrite the odds for businesses facing government investigations, for real people caught up in “once-in-a-lifetime” lawsuits with powerful interests, and for American Indian Tribes embroiled in complex historic disputes.  Tim has a twenty-year track record in private practice and in public service as a passionate champion for his clients and as an incisive strategic thinker.  The essence of who Tim is as a lawyer was captured in 2011 by the editorial page of his hometown newspaper.  Reflecting on Tim’s relentless fight as U.S. Attorney for increased public safety in Indian Country, they wrote that Tim’s efforts “confirmed Purdon's passion and seriousness about trying to make a difference for those less fortunate, for the voices of so many that have been muted for years….” “State’s Largest Minority has Huge Impact,” Bismarck Tribune (March 20, 2011).

Prior to joining Robins Kaplan LLP, Tim served as North Dakota’s U.S. Attorney from 2010-2015.  In that role, he was the chief federal law enforcement official in North Dakota with responsibility for prosecuting all federal crimes in North Dakota and defending the United States in civil litigation.  As U.S. Attorney, Tim placed special emphasis on the issues of increasing public safety on the American Indian reservations in North Dakota and on working with law enforcement partners to counter the new threat from organized crime that emerged as a result of the oil boom in western North Dakota’s Bakken region.  Prior to becoming U.S. Attorney, Tim spent 15 years representing North Dakotans -- trying cases across the state, leading class actions lawsuits, and arguing complex appeals.  In 2007 and 2009, Tim was named a “Great Plains Super Lawyer” in the practice area of Criminal Defense by Minnesota Law & Politics Magazine.

Tim was called on to assume leadership roles at the Department of Justice while he was U.S. Attorney.  In 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder tapped Tim to be a member of the select Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (“AGAC”).  The AGAC advises the Attorney General on criminal justice matters and serves as the voice of the United States Attorney community in setting Department of Justice policies.  In 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Tim the Chair of the Attorney General’s Native American Issues subcommittee (“NAIS”).  The NAIS is responsible for making policy recommendations to the Attorney General regarding public safety and legal issues that impact tribal communities.   While Chair of NAIS, Tim represented the Department of Justice in testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.  When Tim left the Justice Department, Attorney General Holder praised his tenure as U.S. Attorney for North Dakota stating that, “Tim Purdon has been an outstanding United States Attorney, a fierce advocate for the people of North Dakota and a strong national leader whose efforts to improve public safety in Indian Country have made a profound difference – and touched countless lives.”


American Indian Law and Policy

Chairman David Archambault II and Councilman Dana Yellow Fat, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe:  In the fall of 2016, Tribal opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) resulted in widespread protests against DAPL that drove the issue on to the national stage.  In connection with the protests against the DAPL, Robins Kaplan was retained by Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault and Councilman Dana Yellow Fat to represent them after they were sued in federal court by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP).  ETP obtained a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) preventing Chairman Archambault from “illegally” protesting DAPL.  Robins Kaplan was successful in getting the TRO dissolved and the lawsuit against Chairman Dave Archambault and Councilman Dana Yellow Fat dismissed.

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin: The Robins Kaplan American Indian Law and Policy Group represented the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin in its declaratory judgment lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice over the DEA’s raid of the Tribe’s 2015 industrial hemp crop. The lawsuit sought a judicial determination of the Tribe’s right to grow industrial hemp under the 2014 Farm Bill.

North Dakota Class Actions (Class Counsel)

Hanson v. Acceleration Life: United States District Court, District of North Dakota. Class Counsel for a class of approximately 2,000 North Dakota Long-Term Care insurance policyholders on fraud claims. (Prior to joining Robins Kaplan LLP)

Rose v. United Equitable: United States District Court, District of North Dakota, Cass County. Class Counsel for class of approximately 8,000 North Dakota Long-Term Care insurance policyholders on fraud claims. (Prior to joining Robins Kaplan LLP)

Sauby v. City of Fargo: United States District Court, District of North Dakota. Class Counsel class of approximately 54,000 citizens on Civil Rights claims that they had paid traffic fines in excess of those allowed by state law. (Prior to joining Robins Kaplan LLP)

North Dakotan v. Large Bank: United States District Court, District of North Dakota. Class Counsel for class of approximately 25,000 North Dakota bank customers on claims of data privacy violations. (Prior to joining Robins Kaplan LLP)

Tim has briefed and/or personally argued many cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the North Dakota Supreme Court including (prior to joining Robins Kaplan LLP):

United States v. LaMorie, 100 F.3d 547 (8th Cir. 1996)

United States  v. Balanga, 109 F.3d 1299 (8th Cir. 1997)

Tabert v. D.O.T., 560 N.W.2d 883 (N.D. 1997)

Larson v. D.O.T., 564 N.W.2d 628 (N.D. 1998)

State v. Gwyther, 589 N.W.2d 575 (N.D. 1999)

Morrell v. D.O.T., 598 N.W.2d 111 (N.D. 1999)

Hurt v. Freeland, 589 N.W.2d 551 (N.D. 1999)

Kreidt v. B.N.S.F., 615 N.W.2d 153 (N.D. 2000)

Hopkins v. North Dakota, 625 N.W.2d 528 (N.D. 2001)

Hansen v. Scott, 645 N.W.2d 218 (N.D. 2002)

Howes v. Kelly Services, 649 N.W.2d 218 (N.D. 2002)

Howes v. Kelly Services, 654 N.W.2d 422 (N.D. 2002)

Rose v. United Equitable, 632 N.W.2d 429 (N.D. 2001)

Rose v. United Equitable, 651 N.W.2d 683 (N.D. 2002)

Wetsch v. D.O.T., 679 N.W.2d 282 (N.D. 2004)

Jaste v. Gailfus, 679 N.W.2d 257 (N.D. 2004)

Azure v. Belcourt School Dist., 681 N.W.2d 816 (N.D. 2004)

Hansen v. Scott, 687 N.W.2d 247 (N.D. 2004)

Doll v. D.O.T., 693 N.W.2d 627 (N.D. 2005)

Bollin v. D.O.T., 696 N.W.2d 527 (N.D. 2005)

Bartch v. D.O.T. 743 N.W.2d 109 (N.D. 2007)

State v. Friedt, 735 N.W.2d 848 (N.D. 2007)

Sauby v. City of Fargo, 747 N.W.2d 65 (N.D. 2007)

United States v. Quintero, 648 F.3d 660 (8th Cir. 2011)

United States v. Raysor, 661 F.3d 987 (8th Cir. 2011)

United States  v. Anderson, 664 F.3d 758 (8th Cir. 2011)

United States v. Boyle, 700 F.3d 1138 (8th Cir. 2013)

United States  v. Banks, 706 F.3d 901 (8th Cir. 2013)

United States v. Hager, 710 F.3d 830 (8th Cir. 2013)


Ranked in Chambers USA 2021
  • Named a "Leading Practitioner in Native American Law," Chambers USA (2019-2021)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America (2019-2021 editions)
  • Named to Indian Country Business Today’s “Hot List” (2016)
  • "Alumnus of the Year,” North Dakota State College of Science (2014)
  • "Great Plains Super Lawyer - Criminal Defense,” Minnesota Law & Politics (2007, 2009)
  • Voting Member, United States Sentencing Commission’s Tribal Issues Advisory Group
  • Board Member, Infinity Project
  • Board Member, Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota
Bar Admissions
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • United States Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court, District of Montana
  • U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • Hamline University School of Law, J.D. (1994) Minnesota State University – Moorhead, B.A., English (1991)
  • North Dakota State College of Science, A.A. (1989)

  • Industrial Hemp Opportunities in Indian Country  
    MHA Nation Tribal Taxation Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada (December 4, 2019)
  • National Tribal Opioid Litigation Update
    National Indian Gaming Association Convention, San Diego, California (April 2, 2019)
  • CBD Ventures in Wisconsin Indian Country
    Wisconsin State Bar Association Indian Law Section, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (September 7, 2018)
  • Opioid Litigation: Tribal Perspectives and Responses
    Washington State Bar Association Indian Law Section, Seattle, Washington (May 17, 2018)
  • The Department of Justice under President Trump: Cannabis and Other Priorities Impacting Indian Country
    National Indian Gaming Association Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada (April 18, 2018)
  • Understanding the Opioid Epidemic and its Impact on Litigation
    MNAJ and MDLA 2018 Medical Malpractice Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 12, 2018)
  • Testimony before United States Sentencing Commission on behalf of Tribal Issues Advisory Group
    United States Sentencing Commission, Washington, DC (March 14, 2018)
  • Keynote Panel State and Federal Views of the Regulatory Environment
    Moderator, Conference of Tribal Lending Commissioners, Las Vegas, NV (March 5, 2018)
  • Working with a New Administration on Tribal Issues
    Federal Bar Association, D.C. Indian Law Conference, Washington, D.C. (November 3, 2017)
  • Legal Implications of Protests at Standing Rock
    Indian Law Section of Wisconsin State Bar, Red Cliff, Wisconsin (September 29, 2017)
  • Native American Voting Rights Coalition Field Hearing
    UTTC Tribal Leaders Summit, Bismarck, North Dakota (September 5, 2017)
  • Overview of Rosebud Sioux Tribe lawsuit against the Indian Health Service
    Coalition of Large Tribes (COLT) (July 24, 2017)
  • The Holder DOJ in Indian Country
    University of Minnesota Duluth Masters of Tribal Administration and Government Program, Duluth, Minnesota (April 22, 2017)
  • A Legal Tale: The Politics & Policies of Cannabis in Indian Country
    National Indian Gaming Association Convention,San Diego, California (April 11, 2017)
  • Panel Discussion: Sharing Power: Tribal, Local, State, and Federal Cooperation
    Federal Bar Association Indian Law Conference, Scottsdale, Arizona (April 6, 2017)
  • Legal Implications of the Protests at Standing Rock
    Minnesota Association for Justice Mid-Winter Meeting, Duluth, Minnesota (February 24, 2017)
  • Panel Discussion: DAPL Protests at Standing Rock
    University of Minnesota Duluth Summit on Equity, Race, and Multiculturalism, Duluth, Minnesota (February 22, 2017)
  • Cannon Ball: Bobby Kennedy, Holder’s DOJ, Water Protectors and Me
    Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota (February 16, 2017)
  • Tribal Cannabis State of Play
    Victor Strategies Tribal Cannabis & Hemp Symposium, Tulalip Reservation, Seattle, Washington (November 2, 2016)
  • Human Trafficking and Major Sports Events
    Robins Kaplan LLP Trial Advocacy Seminar (October 13, 2016)
  • Methamphetamine and the Reservations—Developing a Tribal, State, and Federal Response
    South Dakota Legislature’s Substance Abuse Prevention Interim Study Committee, Pierre, South Dakota (August 17, 2016)
  • Tribal Cannabis (Marijuana and Hemp): Evolution and Challenges of an Emerging Industry
    National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Tulsa, Oklahoma (July 12, 2016)
  • Drone Technology and Privacy Evolving Regulation
    Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, Minneapolis, Minnesota (March 11, 2016)
  • Eric Holders Justice Department People Process and Policies
    Mitchell Hamline Alumni CLE, St. Paul, Minnesota (March 10, 2016)
  • Eric Holders Justice Department People Process and Policies
    Minnesota DFL Lawyers, Minneapolis, Minnesota (March 9, 2016)
  • Panel Discussion Incentivizing Prosecutors to Reduce Crime and Incarceration
    The Aleph Institute’s Alternative Sentencing Key Stakeholder Summit, Georgetown Law School, Washington DC (March 7, 2016)
  • Tribal Cannabis A Year in Review
    Indigenous Farming Conference, White Earth, Minnesota (March 4, 2016)
  • Human Trafficking in North Dakota
    North Dakota Indian Child Welfare and Wellness Conference, Mandan, North Dakota (February 19, 2016)
  • Drone Law: Regulation Up in the Air
    Emerging Prairie: Drone Focus Monthly Meetup, NDSU Research and Technology Park Incubator, Fargo, North Dakota (October 28, 2015)
  • Eric Holders Justice Department
    Massachusetts Bar Association, Boston, Massachusetts (October 6, 2015)
  • Current Legal Issues for Tribal Nations
    Panel, United Tribes Technical College Tribal Leaders Summit, Bismark, North Dakota (September 9, 2015)
  • Industrial Hemp as an Agricultural Product in Indian Country
    National Congress of American Indians, St. Paul, Minnesota (June 30, 2015)
  • Senator Heidi Heitkamps Human Trafficking Roundtable Featuring Cindy McCain
    Panel, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Bismarck, North Dakota (June 26, 2015)
  • Human Trafficking in North Dakota Victims Services
    State Bar Association of North Dakota, Bismarck, North Dakota (June 18, 2015)
  • Industrial Hemp Production in Indian Country
    Panel, National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Washington, DC (June 16, 2015)
  • Marijuana in Indian Country
    Native American Finance Officers Association, Austin, Texas (April 21, 2015)
  • The Fight Against Human Trafficking in North Dakota
    North Dakota Historical Society, Bismarck, North Dakota (April 18, 2015)
  • Marijuana in Indian Country
    Federal Bar Association Indian Law Section, Scottsdale, Arizona (April 9, 2015)
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