Meet Our New Attorney – Paul Johnson
Who is Paul Johnson?
I’m a real estate and transactional business lawyer who grew up in Dallas, Texas. I attended SMU, both undergrad and law school. After that I went to the London School of Economics for an advanced law degree after SMU. I have practiced in the Arlington, Mansfield, Tarrant County, and North Texas area for over 30 years now.
Paul Johnson’s Practice Areas: Why Real Estate? Why Business Transactions?
In undergrad and law school, I had this vague plan of getting a law degree and going out to do my own deals. After practicing for a while that never happened, because I enjoyed being a part of so many wide and varied types of transactions. If I had worked on my deals or with a group, I probably would have fallen into specialized niche deals. That’s all I would see. Whereas as a deal lawyer, I get to see a wide variety of things. I get to do real estate development work, which is probably about half of my practice, but I also work on mergers and acquisitions, handle business representation, help startups get off the ground, and take companies that have been around a while and help them address all the issues that come with the maturation of a business.
How did you end up also working in the oil and gas?
When the Barnett Shale gas work emerged, for a long period of time you could not get away from it. I’m certainly not an oil and gas or a minerals law specialist, but when what is beneath the ground is so valuable that it sometimes outstrips the value of what is above the ground, you cannot get away from needing to understand and help clients navigate all the issues related to pulling the most value out of their land.
Because the minerals estate is the dominant estate for almost all purposes, you must think carefully about how you allow and join in the extraction of minerals from under your land. I have specialists that assist me when things get a little detailed and technical. Oil and gas is definitely its own standalone specialty of the law. However, these days, especially in Texas, you are simply not thinking clearly if you don’t plan what you’re going to do when the minerals are extracted.
After 30 years of practicing, why did you, Paul Johnson, decide to join Harris Cook?
My longtime law partner, Larry Fowler, and I joined Harris Cook together. Harris Cook is a unique opportunity for us. It offers us a chance to work with David Cook, whom I’ve know since the 1990s and for whom I have such respect. That was one of the biggest incentives for joining. David and Harris Cook provide us with the ability to represent our clients more broadly. For example, it provides us with governmental relations expertise, land use expertise, and governmental incentive expertise.
Harris Cook also is positioned well for this whole corridor between Dallas and Fort Worth. There’s a need for the strong quality law firm that Harris Cook is building. It allows the people of Mansfield, Arlington, up to the mid cities, really all the way up to Southlake and Flower Mound to access quality legal counsel without having to go diving into the Dallas and Fort Worth legal market and the costs that go with that.
It allows both Larry and me to have a platform for all the quality businesses that populate the North Texas area and are not necessarily in the heart of downtown Fort Worth and downtown Dallas.
On the personal side of things, I have a wife and two grown sons. I am very active in my church. I have a strong faith. In keeping with this, I also have a side of my practice where I represent nonprofit corporations. This is a different twist on business representation, because non-profits face issues that for-profit businesses just don’t face.
I’m particularly proud of that side of my practice, because it compliments my value system. It’s particularly gratifying to help those who are out there doing nonprofit, charitable and particularly religious work.