Published: Aug. 25, 2023 By
Obie Johnson

With the academic year quickly approaching, Colorado Law is excited to welcome the incoming class of new students. Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some of our incredible 1Ls through a series of brief profiles. For our next 1L highlight, meet Obie Johnson (he/him).  

Obie grew up near St. Pete, Florida, and earned his bachelor’s degree at Colorado School of Mines in 2021. For the past two years, he has worked in North Carolina as a Mechanical Engineer for a Tier 2 supplier to the government.  

Meet the class of 2026’s Obie Johnson!  

What inspired you to pursue a law degree?  

OJ: After two years of designing composite satellite dishes and RTM molds, getting stuck in mid-level management, always working 60+ hours/week to meet our customers' deadlines, and straight up not having a good time, I've decided to pursue Environmental Law. The novelty and intellectual stimulation of engineering wore off, and I realized I'd need to work in a field aligned with my passions to keep my head in it. I've always been distinctly passionate about environmentalism, especially as it relates to protecting biodiversity, so I knew it was time to transition. A law degree, in other words, is a useful means to protect the environment in a way that I feel utilizes my skills well.  

What are your hobbies outside of work and school?  

OJ: Rock climbing, reading (especially philosophy or technical books related to the environment), writing poetry, playing the occasional video game, and slowly picking up Spanish.  

Why did you choose Colorado law?  

OJ: A mix of reasons... Colorado Law's highly ranked environmental law program, Colorado's beauty, the ability to reconnect with old friends (I spent my undergrad nearby), and scholarship money were all among the most significant contributing factors.  

What are you most looking forward to this upcoming academic year?  

OJ: I think I'm most excited to participate in student organizations, especially the Environmental Law Society, in my first year. It seems like a great way to make friends with similarly passionate classmates and learn from students and faculty who are further along in their studies and careers than I am. I'm also curious to see to what extent the ELS deals with biodiversity law as a subcategory of environmental law, especially since many subcategories of environmental law are so incredibly interlaced. For example, continued excessive CO2 emissions (an understandably common topic in Environmental Law) will increase the ocean's role as a CO2 and heat sink, both acidifying and heating our oceans (bleaching coral, dissolving the carbonate shells of clams, starfish, some primary producers, etc.) and ultimately leading to the destruction of entire ecosystems and food chains. The consequences are almost endless, and not fully understood, so I even see merit in eventually trying to start a Wildlife, Biodiversity, and Conservation Law Society.