Mary Kate Johnson
Ever since she was a young girl, Mary Kate Johnson ’10 has viewed her father as the go-to problem solver for her entire family.
“He is a retired lawyer and loved what he did,” says Johnson, who hopes to continue the family tradition of skillful and considered problem solving. “[His example] really paved the way for me going into law.”
During the summer after her first year at Columbia Law School, Johnson’s desire to tackle notable problems led her to Romania. As a human rights intern for Professor Jack Greenberg, she gathered information from nongovernmental organizations about the integration problems and successes experienced by the often-disenfranchised Roma population. “There was not a lot of collected data on the Roma,” Johnson explains. “In Romania, whatever nationality you claim for yourself, you can be, so many people deny being Roma once they achieve a certain degree of success. Then that reinforces the notion that Roma are poor and uneducated.”
Johnson, who was a summer associate at Sidley Austin last year, came away from the trip with a distinct sense of accomplishment. “The experience gave me the chance to problem solve in a real way,” she says. That sense of pragmatism has driven her interest in project finance law, and Johnson spent her last semester with the Law School’s Global Alliance Program in Paris, where she studied global business law in a joint program with the Sorbonne and the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris.
Next January, Johnson will begin working as an associate with Sidley Austin—where she will have a chance to tackle a new set of complex problems.