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George Johnson: 'Lawyers are the guardians of our democratic society'

George Johnson: 'Lawyers are the guardians of our democratic society'


During Black History Month, the News & Record will present occasional Q&As with interesting people in our community. 

Name: George R. Johnson Jr.

What I do: I am a former dean of the Elon Law School. I teach law students, aspiring lawyers.

Why I do what I do: Lawyers are the guardians of our democratic society, our way of life. They protect our rights and civil liberties, which enable us all potentially to achieve our highest aspirations and become our best selves, individually and as a society. I, therefore, believe that lawyers should be well prepared. They should be smart and rigorously taught to understand the law and the important role it plays in our world. In addition, good lawyers also should have a measure of empathy for other people, especially for the less fortunate among us. I hope then that my work touches the minds and the hearts of my students, those aspiring lawyers.

My proudest achievement: I am especially proud of my work with colleagues at the university and the law school to help Elon University School of Law become fully accredited by the American Bar Association.

My real-life hero: My real-life hero is (former) North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye. I admire him enormously. Few people have had the impact on the progress of North Carolina and our profession as has Henry Frye. Yet, even with his outsized contributions to our community, he remains incredibly modest, unpretentious. He is truly remarkable.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: I would give to every person the ability and the inclination to understand, to appreciate (not necessarily to agree with) another’s position or perspective, particularly the positions and perspectives of those who differ from us in superficial or fundamental ways: race, ethnicity, religion (or the rejection of religion), gender, sexual orientation, wealth, social station. We all could benefit by being a bit more tolerant, a bit more accepting, a bit more understanding of and empathetic toward others and what makes them who they are. Our society could benefit, too.

Contact Nancy McLaughlin at 336-373-7049 and follow @nmclaughlinNR on Twitter.

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