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Updated 1:00 PM June 24, 2003



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The legal team: Charlotte Johnson

As an African American woman and an alumnus of the Law School, Charlotte Johnson feels personally affected by the admissions cases.

"It makes it much more than just a professional role," says Johnson, assistant dean of students at the Law School. "There are so many points of connection for me."
The cases hold special significance for Charlotte Johnson, assistant dean of students at the Law School. (Photo by Andrew M. Daddio, Colgate University)

Johnson's work on the defense of the lawsuits began shortly after she started working at the University in 1997. Initially, Law Dean Jeffrey Lehman appointed her the communications "point person" for the Law School. She provided information to students, faculty and staff about the lawsuit. During the trial at the district court level, she provided regular written updates to the Law School community.

Johnson's role evolved as the case continued through the years. She became a member of the larger communications team and went into the community to answer questions from the general public. She has spoken nationally about the cases and debated Curt Levey of the Center for Individual Rights, among others.

"As the lawsuit picked up steam, my role evolved and became more defined," she says.

Johnson, who was born in Birmingham, Ala., and grew up in Flint, worked as an attorney in Detroit before joining the Law School staff. She was the first African American female partner at the firm Garan Lucow Miller, where she focused on defense litigation in the medical device, municipal law and general negligence areas.

She is proud of her work on the U-M cases and commends the University's commitment to defending affirmative action. Johnson is acutely aware of the wide-reaching impact of the cases. "I think this decision will impact our entire society," she says. "However, as an African American woman, this really hits close to home."

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