Thursday, October 11, 2007

Top Gun: A Conversation with Jeh Johnson, CLS '82

Today, Jeh Johnson, CLS '82, joined the Columbia Chapter of the ACS and BLSA for a conversation about his time as General Counsel of the Air Force and the rule of law in the military.

Mr. Johnson focused on the balance between a mainstream legal career and a commitment to public service. Using his own biography as a touchstone, Mr. Johnson related a story all too familiar to law students: his first days of legal methods with Professor Peter Strauss. His career path - as a competitor in the Stone moot court, an associate at multiple New York firms, an assistant U.S. Attorney, partner at Paul Weiss, and general counsel of the Air Force - represents an evolution into a complete attorney: a socially conscious, efficient, and compelling advocate. The two most important pieces of career advice Mr. Johnson offered were: 1. never us a script; 2. be a U.S. Attorney. His war stories were not only entertaining, but demonstrative of the processes, tactics, and characteristics that constitute elite advocacy.

Mr. Johnson cites his experience at the Air Force and working with presidential candidates as the heart of why he originally came to CLS: to be a public servant.

He left us with the succinct words of wisdom: "Never lose your public interest interest."

Columbia ACS and BLSA would like to thank Mr. Johnson for his entertaining and enlightening visit.

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