Michael W. Johnston is a civil litigation attorney and founding partner of Johnston Legal Group. He has spent 35 years handling cases on personal injury, insurance, consumers and commercial litigation.
Johnston went to Trinity University for his undergraduate studies then earned a full academic scholarship to study law at Baylor Law School. While at Baylor, Johnston worked as the associate editor of the Baylor Law Review.
Following law school, Johnston worked as an associate in a Fort Worth law firm. Within three years, Johnston became a partner at that firm.
Johnston later went on to start his own law firm, Johnston Legal Group. His work focuses on civil litigation, with most cases involving civil commercial matters representing insurance companies, as well as financial institutions in first-party and third-party disputes and large subrogation cases. He handles matters of individuals as well, ranging from large personal injury to criminal cases.
Johnston is also an advocate for providing quality public education to economically disadvantaged children. Through Fort Worth ISD’s Adopt-A-School program, Johnston Legal Group works with I.M. Terrell Elementary School, a school in which more than 90 percent of students are struggling economically. Because of Johnston’s work, the State Board of Education awarded him a Heroes for Children award in 2014.
Johnston has board certification in Civil Trial Law, as well as Consumer and Commercial Law, from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He also has certification in Civil Trial Law from the National Board of Trial Advocacy, along with certification in Civil Pretrial Practice Advocacy. He has a license to practice in Oklahoma as well.
Which legal case in American history do you see as the most influential? Why?
Marbury v. Madison, that established the power of the United States Supreme Court to determine whether statutes passed by Congress are Constitutional. Brown v. Board of Education, that established that segregation was unconstitutional. Nixon v. United States, that established that the President of the United States was subject to the Power of the Judiciary. Roe v. Wade, that established an implied right of privacy. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that established that the Bill of Rights apply to corporations.
I am not implying that all of these decisions are good, but that they were certainly some of the most influential Supreme Court decisions.
What inspired you to become an attorney?
When I was in the seventh grade, I was extremely shy and was terrified of speaking in public. At a business meeting at our church, there was a controversy that appeared to divide the membership to the point that the church would dissolve, or at least divide. When it looked like there was no solution, the only attorney in our congregation, Victor Petty, suggested a solution that satisfied both sides and saved our church. From that night forward, I told my parents that I wanted to be a lawyer.
What is your most significant professional achievement?
Achieving board certification in civil trial law; business and consumer law; pre-trial advocacy and being rated by Martindale Hubble as AV-preeminent (the highest rating possible). Also the recognition our firm received as a 2009 Texas Family Business of the Year by Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. Besides the legal profession, I am most proud of being designated as a “Hero for Children” by the State Board of Education for our law firm’s work in adopting I.M. Terrell Elementary School and serving on the Site Based Decision Making team for Paschal High School.
What motivates you?
Stories of great people who have accomplished far more than what was expected of them and have overcome adversity. I am also motivated by people who say what they believe even though it may not be popular at the time. People who fall within this category are George H.W. Bush, Cohen and Mary Sue Bass, Jimmy Carter, Katherine Johnston, James Cash, my parents, Dr. Gary Flores and the grandson of a slave who had a third-grade education, named Tommy Walker.
What are the major challenges facing young attorneys?
The challenges to young attorneys are too numerous to catalog in a short answer. The following are just a few:
• Passing the Bar Exam when law schools do not require, and sometimes do not offer, courses that relate to subjects on the Bar Exam;
• Finding a job;
• Repaying outrageous student debt;
• Realizing that being a lawyer is nothing like what you expected and that, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, your law school did not teach you how to be a lawyer;
• Losing the arrogance that some law schools instill in their students;
• Coping with the fact that you have become a part of a profession that is hated by most people and that at least one-half of the people you meet in your profession automatically hate you;
• Dealing with the astronomical rate of divorce, substance abuse and physical deterioration; and
• Realizing that, despite the expectations of making big money, most young lawyers make much less per hour than experienced auto mechanics, plumbers and air-conditioning maintenance people.
Do you have a specialty area of practice?
I specialize in civil litigation, including commercial and consumer litigation that includes insurance litigation. I also have an active arbitration practice.
– Samantha Calimbahin