George Leonard was born in Shovlu, Lithuania (Feb. 9, 1872), the son of Victor Leonard and Tauve Melnick. After receiving a gymnasium education, he moved to Paris, in part to avoid Czarist persecution for his socialist views. He lived for a short while in Paris, where he took courses at the Sorbonne and other schools, and became involved in left wing political and labor movements. He immigrated to the United States in 1892, working briefly in both New York City and Philadelphia (where other family members had settled) before coming to Minneapolis in 1894. He graduated from the University of Minnesota law school in 1896, and practiced law in Minneapolis into the 1950s. He was a partner in the influential Minneapolis law firm of Leonard, Street and Deinard.
Leonard belonged to the Knights of Labor, was an organizer of the socialist party in Minnesota, and was actively involved in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and national politics until his death in 1956. He participated throughout his career in a number of political, legal, and social organizations including the League for Industrial Democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Juridical Association, county and state bar associations, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Foreign Policy Association, as well as a number of civil rights and Jewish aid organizations. Leonard was also a regent (1937-1939) of the University of Minnesota.
Leonard married Elizabeth V. DeMerse in 1905 and the couple had two children: John D. and George D.
From the guide to the George B. Leonard papers., 1876-1957., (Minnesota Historical Society)