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The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has named John Payton as director-counsel and president. As lead counsel for the University of Michigan, he argued the affirmative actions admissions case before the U.S. Supreme Court and the lower courts. Payton, most recently a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, also represented the American Legacy Foundation, the organization created from the master settlement agreement between the states and the tobacco industry. He replaces Theodore Shaw as the Legal Defense Fund’s leader. Founded under the direction of Thurgood Marshall, the Legal Defense Fund is the nation’s oldest civil rights law firm. Payton graduated from Harvard Law School in 1977.

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