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Grant R. Doty | Public Service

Grant R. Doty, 48, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, St. Louis

Practice areas: Civil liberties

Law school: Georgetown University Law Center

Practically everything about Grant Doty’s law career has been uncommon. He served more than 20 years in the Army as a nonlawyer, a career that included Desert Storm, a front-row seat to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and the invasion of Iraq. Yet not long after he earned his law degree in 2008, Doty joined what might seem to be the polar opposite organization — the American Civil Liberties Union.

For Doty, however, defending Americans’ freedoms on the battlefield and in the courtroom are two sides of the same coin. His military credentials have managed to disarm some officials and attorneys who otherwise wouldn’t be inclined to give an ACLU lawyer the time of day. Doty’s long experience in organizational matters has also helped transform the ACLU of Missouri from essentially a solo operation to a major force in cutting-edge legal issues, ranging from same-sex marriage to lethal injection protocols to flag burning to distasteful protests at — of all things — military funerals. Since Doty joined in 2010, the organization has more than doubled the number of lawsuits it files.

Doty remains active in military organizations, including as a board member of the West Point Society of St. Louis and member of the American Legion, among other veteran groups. He often greets foreign and military visitors to St. Louis and teaches international relations at Webster University.

What is your greatest accomplishment to date?

While predating my law degree and not really an “accomplishment” (because change came much later), I am most proud of my express and direct challenges to the discriminatory and shameful “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy when I had the ear of senior Army leaders during my final tour in uniform.

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what profession would you have chosen?

Had I not attended law school in anticipation of my second career, I would have liked to become a city manager.

What is your favorite website or app and why?

One of my favorite legal websites is the Volokh Conspiracy (which is now sponsored by and located at the Washington Post); it is a nice news aggregator with commentary and research for attorneys interested in civil liberties (and other subjects as well). Best legal app: WestlawNext.