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Atlanta-based Alston & Bird’s managing partner, Ben F. Johnson III, has taken on another leadership role. Johnson is Atlanta’s Emory University’s new Board of Trustees chairman. A board member since 1995, Johnson, 57, received his bachelor of arts degree from Emory in 1965 before going on to law school at Harvard University. He succeeds Bradley Currey Jr., 70, who served as chairman for six years. “I think people recognize my love and dedication to the university, and I think that they know that I will give it as much energy as I’ve got,” Johnson says. Johnson has extensive ties to Emory. His father, Ben F. Johnson Jr., was a faculty member and dean of Emory University School of Law from 1961 to 1973. After raising the capital and overseeing the construction of Emory Law School’s Gambrell Hall, the elder Johnson left Emory to start the Georgia State University College of Law. Johnson III grew up on Atlanta’s Clifton Road near Emory’s law school and says he shares a “lot of history” with the university. “I rode my bike to Emory Village several times a day,” Johnson says. “I learned to swim in the Emory pool.” In addition to his ties to the school, Johnson says he feels “a strong sense of connectedness” to the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and The Coca-Cola Co., two major benefactors of Emory. Johnson graduated from the Georgia Military Academy (now Woodward Academy) and has been chairman of the Woodward board for 19 years. Georgia Military was the only school from which Robert W. Woodruff graduated, Johnson says. Also, at Emory, Johnson says he was a fraternity brother of Joseph R. Gladden Jr., general counsel at Coca-Cola. Johnson says attorneys are valuable university board members because they “have a greater appreciation for complexity than do a lot of other people.” In a farewell toast to Currey, Johnson says a great university is “a thing of unruly paradox.” Johnson explains by saying he thinks the very purpose of a university is to recognize various competing interests. “That’s what lawyers deal with every day,” Johnson says. “They deal with not avoiding the marketplace of ideas � but relishing the prospect of resolving issues and then moving on to the next issue.” Johnson says 65 attorneys at the firm earned either undergraduate or law degrees from Emory. And Alston & Bird performs health-care and intellectual property work for Emory.

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