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Madeleine Johnson, general counsel and vice president for Southwest Airlines, is bringing her legal career in for a landing early next year. She announced her retirement, effective February 1, 2013, after four years as the top lawyer at the Dallas-based airline. Johnson will be replaced by Mark Shaw, who is currently Southwest’s associate general counsel of corporate and transactions. In a statement from the company about the changes in its legal department, Ron Ricks, Southwest’s EVP and chief legal and regulatory officer, said, “Madeleine has been a joy to work with, a ferocious protector of Southwest, and someone who has made incredible contributions to the success of our airline in her relatively short tenure.” Chief among those contributions is the 2010 acquisition of AirTran Airways, which now operates as a subsidiary of Southwest. In the statement, Johnson said of her retirement, “I can imagine no better way to cap a legal career than to have served as general counsel of Southwest Airlines. I have had the privilege of working with a group of exceptionally talented lawyers, leaders, and some of the most wonderful people I will ever meet. Together, our people have built a powerhouse among corporate legal departments.” Johnson says that, apropos of her time with a major airline, her immediate retirement plans include global travel—to Dubai, Oman, India, Scandinavia, and the Galapagos. She also intends to do volunteer work to advance women’s business initiatives. Prior to joining Southwest’s in-house legal team, Johnson had been the Dallas City Attorney, an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Texas, Chief of the Opinion Division at the Texas Attorney General’s office, and had worked in the law firm of Fish & Richardson. Johnson has a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and earned her J.D. from Tulane Law School. Her successor, Shaw, has been part of Southwest’s legal team since 2000, before which he worked for GE Capital Aviation Services; at the Dallas office of the law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld; and for Mary Kay Inc.* Shaw did his undergraduate work at The University of Texas at Austin and got his J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law.

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