Cooley taps new director to lead Corporate Law and Finance Program


 Johnson steps down to pursue fight against human trafficking

Thomas M. Cooley Law School appointed Professor James L. Carey as the new director of its Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Corporate Law and Finance program. Program founder E. Christopher Johnson Jr. recently announced that he will be leaving the full-time faculty at Cooley in order to focus his life’s work on ending human trafficking. Carey took charge of the LL.M. program, a program designed to train the next generation of corporate lawyers, on Jan. 1. 

“I am honored to accept the role as director of Cooley’s Graduate Program in Corporate Law and Finance,” said Carey. “I know I have big shoes to fill as Professor Johnson was an exceptional teacher, scholar, and leader. Professor Johnson has built a great program; as an adjunct faculty member he will continue to be an important part of what we do.”

Carey joined Cooley Law School in 2005 and teaches Business Organizations; Wills, Trusts and Estates; and Securities Regulation. He is also one of Cooley’s faculty coordinators for the Service to Soldiers legal referral program. Before joining the Cooley faculty, Carey worked in the Business Transactions Group of Dickinson Wright PLLC in Ann Arbor, Mich., and with the Corporate and Insurance Services groups of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP in Chicago. Carey earned his bachelor of arts and his juris doctor degrees from the University of Michigan.  He was recently elected as the vice chair of the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

Before Johnson stepped down from his role as LL.M. Corporate Law and Finance director, he was actively involved in a number of access to justice and access to law school programs, including Cooley’s high school and college pipeline programs.  It was following a mission trip to India in 2011, that he became deeply committed to the issue of human trafficking.

“My commitment to the eradication of human trafficking is a calling I need and want to dedicate virtually all of my efforts to,” Johnson said. “This has been a very difficult decision, because of the relationships I have formed with Cooley’s faculty, staff and students.”

Johnson now works as the reporter and chief drafter of the American Bar Association’s Business Conduct Standards to Eradicate Labor Human Rights Impacts in Hiring and Supply Chain Practices.  He is also a member of the Michigan Attorney General’s Commission on Human Trafficking, and the State of Michigan’s Human Trafficking Task Force. 

Johnson joined Cooley in January 2009 as the director of the school’s new Corporate Law and Finance LL.M. program.  Previously, he served as vice president and general counsel for General Motors North America and as an associate at a Wall Street law firm. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and received his juris doctor, cum laude, from New York Law School. He retains his leadership roles in the national, state and local bar associations, as well as at a number of community organizations, and will continue as an adjunct professor, co-teaching a course in slavery and trafficking at Cooley.  

“As much as we will all miss Professor Johnson at Cooley Law School, we wholeheartedly support and admire his decision to devote all his energies to such a worthy cause,” said Charles Cercone, Cooley’s associate dean of faculty. “The world will be a better place with people like Chris taking the lead in the fight against human trafficking.”


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