In Legal Elite 2018

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JAMES JOHNSON

Smith Terry & Johnson | Asheville

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Guilty Pleasure Playing the mandolin.
Vita 44; born in Columbia, S.C.; bachelor’s from Wofford College and law degree from University of South Carolina; married with two children, two Jack Russell terriers, a cat named May, assorted chickens and honeybees.
Why he chose to specialize in this field Good fortune. I moved to Asheville thinking I would be a personal injury trial lawyer. Then I was hired to be a regulatory health care lawyer. Luckily for me, construction in the mountains was beginning to boom. I ended up second chairing a construction trial involving a public project and came up with a novel argument that got our client out of the case. I was hooked — 15 years later, and it’s still all I want to do.
Memorable case In 2007, I had the pleasure of trying a monthlong construction jury trial with my father, Pope D. Johnson III, who practices law in South Carolina. It was my case, but I knew I needed the help, and he didn’t mind spending a month up in the mountains of Hendersonville during leaf season. The jury found for our clients, vindicating their rights, and we shared a unique father-son experience.
Favorite place San Areco de Antonio, Argentina, during the annual “gaucho” cowboy festival. Think of a street party like Mardi Gras, but with thousands of cowboys and horses everywhere in a dusty colonial town with cobblestone streets and a church on the square.
Recent reading Lonesome Dove is a favorite. Best read of late is Barbarian Days by William Finnegan, a journalist’s tale of a lifelong surfing addiction. I don’t surf, but I appreciate serious hobbyists.
Favorite TV show I am obsessed with a YouTube channel called Almazan Kitchen, which shows videos of a Serbian chef hiking into the woods and cooking world-class cuisine over a campfire. No dialogue, all you hear is the cracking of the fire and the food sizzling. Very relaxing.
Don’t ask him to Go to themed amusement parks.
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