Richard Johnson is Associate General Attorney for Ball Corporation. He enjoys the interdisciplinary, collaborative, and even international opportunities he is given and credits the atmosphere and expertise at Colorado Law for equipping him with the skills to navigate his varied, full workdays and to excel.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a “typical” work day look like?
7:30 a.m.: Check my to-do list, grab a coffee (the first of six) while my computer loads, and then respond to e-mails.
9:00 a.m.: Work on my existing routine workload. Review and edit metal purchasing contracts, energy contracts, IP licensing agreements.
11:30 a.m.: Attend weekly departmental meeting. Our department is divided by subject area (patents, labor, HR, government contracts, real estate), but projects and expertise overlap. This is our opportunity to catch up and share information.
12:30 p.m.: Take a 30-minute lunch break. I alternately eat lunch with a Ball colleague in our cafeteria, or I’ll eat at my desk and read law magazines or WSJ Español. I want to continue to develop my Spanish language skills as a lawyer, so I use this time to stay sharp.
1:00 p.m.: Prepare for a call with outside counsel.
4:00 p.m.: Meet with Ball’s response team. I spent five months (April to September 2014) on assignment in Bonn, Germany. While on assignment in Germany, I helped implement a response program for our European business, as part of Ball’s ongoing corporate compliance. Because of this experience, I was invited to join Ball’s interdisciplinary response team.
5:30 p.m.: Organize my desk and create a to-do list for the next day.
How did you find your job?
Todd Rogers of Colorado Law Career Services put me in touch with Ball’s General Counsel. I started as an intern during my 3L spring, stayed on as a contract worker after taking the bar, and then became a full time employee in January 2014, six months after taking the bar exam.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
Every law school class has been useful. Patent Law gave me the framework to provide patent infringement opinions and review IP licensing agreements. Introduction to Intellectual Property with Paul Ohm taught me about confidentiality agreements and trade secret issues, and I deal with these almost every week. Every time someone sends me a new piece of artwork that might go on one of Ball’s products (in this case, beverage and food cans), I refer to the one-page outline I made for Andy Hartman’s copyright class. International Business Transactions with Alexia Marks and Venture Capital with Brad Bernthal and Jason Mendelson introduced me to many of the concepts and terms I encounter in sourcing agreements. Thanks to William Boyd’s energy law class, I am able to negotiate energy agreements because I understand energy law’s unique regulatory structure. Finally, the principles I learned in Fred Bloom’s evidence class have helped me the few times I have had to start gathering documents at the early stages of potential litigation.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and networking specifically. How has your professional network made a difference in your career?
Network by doing what you enjoy. I enjoy playing tennis, so I try to network with tennis players. My networking didn’t directly lead me to a job, but the people I met through tennis gave me great advice and helped me navigate my way to my current position. As a provider of legal services to the business, people skills are one of the most important parts of my job. I try to be friendly, social, and respond quickly to e-mails.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
Do as many internships as you can. Explore different areas of the law during your first 1.5 years of law school, and try to narrow your interests by your 2L summer. If you know what you like to do by your 2L summer or your 3L year, find an internship at a place where you would like to work full-time after graduation. Many of my classmates now have full-time jobs at the places where they spent their 2L summer or their 3L spring semester.
If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say?
You can do almost anything you want after graduating from Colorado Law. My classmates are working across the country at top law firms, in prestigious clerkships, and in other exciting positions. Also, the Colorado Law School experience is enjoyable. Colorado Law professors and students are smart, friendly and cooperative, and Boulder is beautiful.
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
I chose Colorado Law for its academic strengths, a good financial package, its cooperative atmosphere, and because I love Boulder. Colorado Law has an outstanding reputation in the areas that interested me when I applied: entrepreneurial law and environmental law. Before I decided to go to Colorado Law, I visited law schools across the country. Compared to the students and professors I met while visiting other law schools, the students and professors I met at Colorado Law are friendlier and more upbeat. Finally, Colorado Law sits in a fantastic building on a beautiful campus, only minutes from mountain streams and trails.