Jeh Johnson ’82 to Deliver Keynote at Columbia Law Graduation

Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and a partner at Paul, Weiss will share thoughts on political and professional responsibility with Class of 2018.

Jeh C. Johnson ‘82
Jeh Charles Johnson
Jeh C. Johnson ‘82
’82, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and former general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense, will address members of the Columbia Law School Class of 2018 at their graduation on Monday, May 14. The 5 p.m. ceremony will be held on the South Lawn of Columbia University’s Morningside Campus.

In his remarks, Johnson will share his concerns about today's political climate and offer his offer his insights into the legal profession’s obligations and ethical standards.

Johnson has had a distinguished and diverse career that has combined private practice with public service. He has served in three presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed positions: He was the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama from December 2013 to January 2017. He was responsible for counterterrorism; cybersecurity; border, port, aviation and maritime security; enforcement and administration of immigration laws; response to national disasters; detection and prevention of nuclear, chemical and biological threats; and the protection of critical infrastructure.

From 2009 to 2012, Johnson served as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense and was described by The New York Times as being “a primary legal architect of the military’s counterterrorism efforts under the Obama administration.” In 2010, he co-authored the report that paved the way for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by Congress that year. He has also been General Counsel of the U.S. Air Force and an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Johnson, who received his B.A. from Morehouse College in 1979, is a litigation partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which he joined in 1984. In 1994, became the firm’s first African-American partner.

In 2012, Columbia Law School presented Johnson with its Medal for Excellence—its highest honor—which is awarded to professors and alumni who exemplify the qualities of character, intellect, and social and professional responsibility that the Law School seeks to instill in its students.

The Columbia Law School graduation ceremony will be streamed live starting at 5 p.m. EDT on May 14.


Posted on May 10, 2018