John Utley is a former shareholder and a former president of Kennedy & Graven, Chartered. He is currently of counsel to the firm and continues to practice in the area of Public Finance. Public Finance is the area of law dealing with the issuance of municipal bonds and other obligations by the States of the United States and by the political subdivisions of the States. An accomplished bond attorney must have attained expertise in local government laws with respect to the issuance of municipal bonds (and related subjects), federal and state tax laws as they relate to the taxation of municipal bonds, and federal and state securities laws as they relate to the offer and sale of municipal bonds.

John acts as bond counsel and counsel to underwriters with respect to the issuance of municipal bonds by governmental issuers of the state of Minnesota. He typically provides his services as bond counsel or underwriter’s counsel in complex revenue bond transactions but also serves as bond counsel with respect to the general obligation bond issues of the City of Minneapolis, the City of Bloomington, and the City of Woodbury, among others.

John acted as bond counsel to the City of Minneapolis with respect to the financing of its acquisition of the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis (home of the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association), counsel to the underwriters with respect to the financing by the City of Saint Paul of the Xcel Energy Center (home of the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League); and initially counsel to the underwriters and later bond counsel with regard to the financing of the public improvements undertaken by the Port Authority of the City of Bloomington, Minnesota, with respect to the Mall of America. In addition to these highly visible projects, in over thirty-eight years of practice, he has also been involved in the financing and refinancing of many commercial and industrial enterprises, multifamily housing developments (including independent living, assisted-living, and memory-care facilities for the elderly), nursing homes, hospitals and other health care facilities, educational facilities, and tax increment financing projects.

In 1972, John earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy (cum laude ) from Bemidji State University. He then enrolled in law school at William Mitchell College of Law, graduating with a Juris Doctor degree (cum laude ) in 1977. In 1986, he enrolled in the first class of a graduate tax program initiated at William Mitchell College of Law and graduated with a Master of Laws in Taxation degree (magna cum laude ) in 1988.

John taught a Municipal Bond Law seminar at the University of Minnesota Law School in 1982. He also taught Legal Writing for one year and Federal Income Tax for two years at William Mitchell College of Law (1993-1996).

John has this to say about Kennedy & Graven:

I particularly enjoy working on the most complex types of transactions that require creativity and the ability to work under pressure. Although these financings can be mentally and physically exhausting, they provide the greatest challenges and are to me the most personally rewarding.



  • William Mitchell College of Law, St Paul, Minnesota
    • Master of Law magna cum laude – 1988
    • Major: Taxation
  • William Mitchell College of Law, St Paul, Minnesota
    • Juris Doctor cum laude – 1977
  • Bemidji State College, Bemidji, Minnesota
    • Bachelor of Arts cum laude – 1972
    • Major: Philosophy

Bar Admissions

  • Minnesota, 1977
  • U.S. District Court District of Minnesota, 1978

Published Works

  • “The Tax-Free Municipal Bond: A Security in Decline?”, 6 Journal of Taxation of Investments 267, 1989
  • “Qualified Issuers of Tax-exempt Obligations”, 9 Municipal Finance Journal 181, 1988
  • “The Tax-exempt Status of Interest on Condemnation Awards”, 8 Municipal Finance Journal 121, 1987

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Hennepin County Bar Association, Member
  • Minnesota State Bar Association, Member
  • National Association of Bond Lawyers, Member
  • American College of Bond Counsel, Fellow


  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Federal Income Tax, William Mitchell College of Law, 1994 – 1996
  • Legal Writing Instructor, William Mitchell College of Law, 1992 – 1993
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Municipal Bond Seminar, University of Minnesota Law School, 1982