Columbia Law School Alumnus Jeh Johnson '82 Confirmed to Pentagon Post
New York, February 10, 2009 — The U.S. Senate yesterday evening confirmed Columbia Law School graduate Jeh C. Johnson ’82 as General Counsel of the Department of Defense. Johnson joins the Department from the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he has been a litigation partner.
“Jeh Johnson brings to his new position decades of experience in both the private and public sectors,” said David M. Schizer, Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law. “We are very proud that he has chosen to assume the mantle of leadership as General Counsel of the Department of Defense during this challenging time in our nation’s history. He is an important role model for Columbia Law School students seeking to have a broad impact during their career.”
As General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Johnson will be the chief legal officer for the largest department of government in the world. He will advise Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and the Department on matters ranging from military operations, international affairs, intelligence, fiscal law, acquisition, environment and installations, litigation against the department, civilian and military personnel matters and health policy.
Johnson began his trial lawyer career in 1989 as an assistant United States attorney in the Southern District of New York, where for three years he prosecuted public corruption cases.
In 1994 he became a partner at Paul, Weiss, where he stayed until 1998, when President Clinton appointed him General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force. During his 27-month tenure, he served as chief legal officer and one of the civilian leaders of a military department of 1,700 lawyers and 500,000 personnel. Johnson was awarded the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service.
Since his return to Paul, Weiss, Johnson has tried some of the highest-stakes commercial cases in recent years. These include the successful representation in 2005 of Citigroup in defense of a $900 million arbitration claim, the second largest ever filed with the National Association of Securities Dealers.
Johnson taught at the Law School as a lecturer-in-law in trial practice from 1995 to 1997. At age 47, he was elected a fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute and has been active in numerous professional and community activities. He received his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College in 1979.
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, criminal and environmental law.