New Dallas mayor will double as a Locke Lord bond lawyer

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Dallas mayor and bond attorney Eric Johnson has joined the public finance team of Locke Lord as partner.

Johnson won a runoff election for mayor on June 17, becoming the second African-American to hold the city’s top post.

Johnson, who said he resigned his previous law practice at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe to run for mayor, promised to avoid any conflicts of interest between his two careers.

Dallas was a public finance client of Orrick, which served as disclosure counsel on the city's most recent general obligation bond sales, in April and in 2018.

“To Dallas’ residents, I want to say that my duties as mayor will always come first,” Johnson said. “As a practicing lawyer in my early 40s, however, it is also important that I maintain my law license and continue to practice law as time allows. And I will always do so in accordance with all applicable laws, as well as the ethical standards of the legal profession, with respect to conflicts of interest.”

In Dallas, where the city manager runs day-to-day operations, the mayor is paid $80,000 per year. The salary increased $20,000 per year over what Johnson's predecessor, Mike Rawlings, earned.

Before his election as mayor, Johnson served nine years in the Texas House of Representatives. During his tenure in the Texas Legislature, he served on 20 major legislative committees and as the chairman of the Dallas Area Legislative Delegation.

“He shares our commitment to serving not just our clients, but our city,” said Whit Roberts, deputy managing partner of Locke Lord’s Dallas office. “His background is extraordinary in both legal and civic endeavors, and his experience in public finance will be invaluable to our firm.”

Before Orrick, Johnson worked at Andrews Kurth Kenyon. He helped establish both firms’ presence in the North Texas public finance market. He received a bachelor’s degree with honors from Harvard University, a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University and a juris doctor degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Johnson is also the regional chairman of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations and serves on the board of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Locke Lord’s public finance practice group traces its Dallas presence to 1891.

The firm ranked fourth nationally for bond counsel on competitive deals in the first half of 2019, credited by Refinitiv with 94 deals valued at $2.1 billion. Locke Lord also ranked third on The Bond Buyer’s list of top bond counsel in the Northeast for the first half of 2019.

“I can’t think of a better situation — working for the people of my hometown as their mayor, and practicing law with some of the most talented lawyers in the world,” Johnson said. “I’m also looking forward to working closely with firm leadership to further enhance the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

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