Cooley professor named one of nation's most influential black attorneys

Thomas M. Cooley Law School professor and director of the school's graduate degree program in Corporate Law and Finance, E. Christopher Johnson Jr. has been selected as one of the nation's most influential black attorneys in the "Pipeline Builder" category by On Being A Black Lawyer Media Company (OBABL).

Johnson's selection will place him on OBABL's inaugural Power 100 Special Edition list.

OBABL has become an influential media company and produces e-newsletters, events and social media platforms to engage black legal professionals. OBABL's mission is to help advance diversity in the legal profession.

"I am honored to receive this award for making a difference in diversity in the legal profession," said Johnson of Novi. "Whatever I have accomplished in life is attributable to my strong Christian faith and keeping my family and Jesus Christ at the center of my life. God has provided me with some wonderful mentors over the years and I want to also be a mentor to those coming behind me."

Johnson has been working for more than 20 years in various inner-city pipeline programs designed to increase diversity in the legal profession and help to develop responsible citizens. While at General Motors, where he served as the vice president and general counsel for GM North America, Johnson championed a number of initiatives in the access-to-justice and access-to-law school and diversity arenas. He is actively involved in Cooley's high school and college pipeline programs, which are designed to expand access to law school, and he serves as the chair of City Mission, a Detroit elementary school and K-12 mentoring program.

His service through the years mirrors these passions and has included serving as chair of the Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline; member, Council of Legal Education Opportunity; chair of ABA Africa; co-chair, West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference; and co-chair of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Foundation.

"We are extremely proud and supportive of the work Professor Johnson has done to increase diversity in the legal profession and access to law school," said Charles Cercone, Cooley associate dean of faculty. "Cooley has a strong tradition of reaching out to diverse individuals who are interested in the practice of law."

Johnson joined Cooley in 2009 as a visiting professor and launched the school's graduate degree program in Corporate Law and Finance.

While on a mission trip, Johnson was exposed to slavery and human trafficking which compelled him to join the anti-slavery and human trafficking movement. Johnson serves as co-chair of the Community Committee of the State of Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force and works with a number of governmental and non-governmental entities on this crisis. He also leads Cooley's initiatives in this area and he recently led a statewide human trafficking awareness event at Cooley's four Michigan campuses.

Published: Mon, Feb 27, 2012