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Having already worked for two powerhouse law firms plus the U.S. Department of Justice and the vice president of the United States by age 44, Kumiki Gibson is on to a new challenge: academia. It’s hardly surprising that she is taking on a sizable position: vice president and general counsel of Johns Hopkins University. Gibson replaced Estelle Fishbein, who retired after 28 years as GC of the 5,500-student Baltimore institution, in February. After a one-year clerkship in Philadelphia, Gibson spent four years as a litigation associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Arnold & Porter. Hungry for courtroom experience, she joined the Department of Justice as a trial attorney in 1992. A year later, she received a call from Jack Quinn, general counsel to Vice President Al Gore and a former partner at Arnold & Porter. Quinn was looking for a lawyer to work on some regulatory reform issues, and offered Gibson the job. Gibson’s decision about the offer was a no-brainer. “When someone asks you to serve in the White House, you just go,” she says. “There was no hesitation.” A lifelong Democrat, Gibson joined Gore’s staff in 1993 and stayed for four years. She describes her White House experience with a mixture of awe and nostalgia. “Words can’t even describe it,” she says. “It was a privilege. You feel like you’re serving people every day. You feel like you’re doing good things. I was working all the time, but it didn’t matter.” Gibson cites Nelson Mandela’s swearing in, which she witnessed firsthand in South Africa, as one of her most memorable experiences. But what made the job great, she insists, was serving Gore and President Bill Clinton: “The other stuff was gravy on an otherwise wonderful meal.” After four years in the White House, Gibson began looking for a litigation position at a firm. She knew lawyers at Williams & Connolly because the firm had represented Clinton in his impeachment proceedings. She joined the firm as of counsel in 1997 and made partner a few years later. Last summer Gibson’s friend Marvin Krislove, the GC of the University of Michigan, told her about the job at Johns Hopkins. “I knew how much [he] had enjoyed his experience at Michigan, and I was intrigued by the position,” Gibson says. “Then, after I met Bill Brody, Johns Hopkins’s president, I became convinced that this would be great.” She now heads up an eight-person legal department and reports to the university’s president and board of trustees.

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