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Nicholas Johnson graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1958. Like most law schools, the University of Texas School of Law has a student-published journal, the Texas Law Review (TLR), first published in 1922. While at the law school Nicholas Johnson served as TLR Articles Editor. As a part of the TLR centennial celebration in 2022 it contracted with a firm that produces “digital memory books that keep alumni connected” – access to which is limited to members of the group creating the book (in this case alumni associated with the TLR when students). There is nothing on Nicholas Johnson’s website (or elsewhere) that provides public access to the book, or reveals any of the information submitted by others. This page simply reproduces into the “Nicholas Johnson Personal” portion of his website a part of what he submitted for the TLR book project.

Photo credit: Alcade, Texas Exes. For many more photos see University of Texas School of Law, flickr.

What I’m up to now

Living in Iowa City, Iowa. As Christmas approaches (Dec. 21, 2021) I’m “Jolly, Old (87), and Nicholas — but scarcely a saint.” Only in person am I in Iowa City. Electronically, I can be found at: Web page: https://www.nicholasjohnson.org; Blog: https://FromDC2Iowa.blogspot.com (includes newspaper column); and YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/NJohnsonIowa. Grew up in Iowa City, Iowa.


Mary Vasey

Clerkship info – judge/court

Judge John R. Brown, 5th Cir.; Justice Hugo L. Black, US Supreme Court

How can you help other Texas Law Review members or alumni?

Former Texas Law Review members don’t need my help.

Those considering, or enrolled in, law school may. Here are some publications they might find useful — that you might want to share with one you know:

For undergrads considering law school: “Random Thoughts on Law School Rankings,”

For 1Ls: “So You Want to be a Lawyer: A Play in Four Acts,”

For 2Ls: “Unauthorized Practice by Law Students: Some Legal Advice About Legal Advice,” Texas Law Review, 36 Tex. L. Rev. 346 (1958)

For 3Ls considering clerkships: “What Do Law Clerks Do?” Texas Bar Journal, vol. 22, May 22, 1959, p. 229, and “Opinions and Personality: Brown on the Law,” 47 Houston L. Rev. 553 (2010),  and “Justice Hugo L. Black: A Former Law Clerk Remembers,” May 22, 2014.

What’s new with you?

Full bio: https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/about/njbio04.html

Here’s Iowa Law School’s shorter version. “Nicholas Johnson is among roughly 700 individuals listed in The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law (2009), described by the publisher as ‘leading figures in the history of American law, from the colonial era to the present day.’ … In 1970, Newsweek magazine described him as one of the four candidates most in demand for university presidencies. He taught at the UI College of Law from 1981 until his retirement in 2014.

Born and raised in Iowa City, Professor Johnson earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas, Austin. … He clerked for Judge John R. Brown, U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, and Justice Hugo L. Black, U.S. Supreme Court.

His first teaching appointment was at the University of California Law School (Boalt Hall), Berkeley. He subsequently was an Associate at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling, from which he was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson (no relation) to be the U.S. Maritime Administrator.

He is perhaps best known for his tumultuous seven-year term as a Commissioner of the FCC (1966-1973), during which, among other things, he was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and published How to Talk Back to Your Television Set. He later served President Jimmy Carter as a presidential advisor for the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services. Since his FCC term, Professor Johnson ran in an Iowa congressional primary, headed a Washington-based media reform group, hosted a PBS TV series, wrote a nationally syndicated column, consulted with numerous countries on media matters, and delivered hundreds of lectures. …

Professor Johnson also taught in UI’s Department of Communication Studies, was Co-director of the UI’s Institute for Health, Behavior and Environmental Policy, and a board member of the Iowa City Community School District School Board.”

How did being on Texas Law Review impact your life personally and/or professionally?

I, as I presume most Texas Law Review participants — perhaps extending to all UT Law graduates — consider my time at UT Law probably the most important and influential three years in shaping all of what followed.

Mary Vasey (the smart one of us) – high school classmate for 4 years, wife for 30 (and still counting)

One story. Rainy day, working at Court, Judge was at home. Needed advice. Phoned. Elizabeth answered. “Elizabeth, I need to talk to the Judge.” “You can’t talk to him now, he’s in the back yard playing tennis.” “He can’t be playing tennis. It’s raining.” “Nick, you know it’s raining. I know it’s raining. But the Judge says it’s not raining and he’s playing tennis.” No way to appeal a Supreme Court decision, even to the Justice’s wife.

“Maritime Administrator?! You do realize I grew up as a landlocked Iowa boy who couldn’t safely paddle a canoe, don’t you?”

Law students thought this more impressive than Supreme Court clerkship.

In Iowa we get to give all of the presidential candidates our advice. (2007)

But we try to listen politely as well.

Who wouldn’t want to study cyberlaw from a law prof with a welcoming smile, tidy office, and Rolling Stone cover on the wall? Over the 33 years at UI Law the course evolved with the technology, through Communications Law (including telephone utility law), Media Law, Law of Electronic Media (broadcasting, cable, satellite), Cyber Law, to Cyberspace Law Seminar. (Also, along the way at UC Berkeley Law, U Iowa Law, and other law schools as visiting professor: Administrative Law, Agency and Partnership, Broadcast Regulation, Constitutional Law, Corporation Law, Economics of Law Practice, Entertainment Law and Business, Oil and Gas Law, and Sports Law.)