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Meet Partner Logan Johnson

Meet Partner Logan Johnson

For more than 20 years, Logan Johnson has represented plaintiffs and defendants in their most important matters. Below, he discusses his approach to trial work, the exhilaration of prevailing in court, and one of the best years of his career.

What’s been on your docket recently?

Like the rest of our firm, I handle complex commercial disputes. Last year, I was particularly busy. I had a variety of large commercial cases and three significant jury trials that involved seven-figure-plus damage models, and I was able to win all three. The cases were diverse, involving construction, oil and gas, and tort claims.

I also obtained favorable settlements for two cases on the eve of trial. One, worth nine figures, was for a leading U.S. oil and gas producer in a contract dispute that related to decommissioning liabilities. The other dealt with novel issues in an eight-figure joint operating agreement dispute that involved a variety of claims. Finally, I was tapped by the City of Houston to handle litigation involving a $1.8 billion critical infrastructure project related to a massive expansion of the city’s northwest water treatment plant. In total, we collected over $150 million for my clients and won three jury trials that included defense verdicts.

You sound like you love your job.

I do, especially when it involves going to trial. I was a competitive athlete growing up and in college, and that competitive instinct has never faded. As with any sport, there’s no substitute for preparation. The notion that a great trial lawyer can win cases solely based on skill is a fallacy—it takes hard work. Trial work is stressful and demands a large personal investment. By the time you’re waiting for a verdict, it can feel like your life hangs in the balance. The emotional investment you pour into this work is unbelievable.

Describe your approach.

From the day I get a new case, I’m thinking about how I would try it. Even though the statistical probability of most cases reaching trial is low, preparing a case for trial and being willing to try a case will lead to the best settlements and provides the best value proposition for the client. How you plan to try the case informs everything you do (or decide not to do for strategic reasons), whether that’s third-party subpoenas, depositions, or the pleadings you plan to file. The details will certainly evolve over time, but you should have a clear strategy from the outset. That also requires you to pick your battles carefully and give thought as to why you are doing certain things. For instance, some preliminary motions that some lawyers file out of habit (and have a low probability of success) may be nothing more than showing your hand early and educating the opposition.

As the case gets underway, it starts to resemble a game of chess. Every move must be thoughtful and support your client’s long-range goals. But you can also pivot when necessary. Sometimes I’ll be cautious, sometimes I’ll be extremely aggressive—whichever approach I feel has the best chance of success. I have tried dozens of cases, which is invaluable when it comes to making those sorts of gut calls. Lawyers are often described as having good or bad instincts, but experience is what sharpens and informs those instincts.

The final piece of the puzzle is subject matter mastery. In the construction jury trial we won last year, there was an incredible amount of technical analysis and evaluation. Eight expert witnesses testified at trial, which required our trial team to master the technical aspects of the case. You have to know what you’re talking about and be able to explain very complicated concepts in simple terms in order to effectively persuade a jury.

Two of your recent cases settled on the eve of trial. What’s your strategy for pursuing a settlement down to the wire?

I never assume we’re heading for a settlement. Our firm is not afraid to go the distance—we recruit lawyers who want to try cases. The reality is that trial experience is hard to come by at most firms, especially if you handle large cases. Our willingness to try cases is often our clients’ best leverage as the trial date approaches.

How do you get your team involved?

I’m at my best when I’m playing a team sport. Our firm has grown to a point where trying cases is a collaborative art. We’ve got so many people who aren’t just ultra-smart, they’re also hard-working and competitive. There’s a common value structure here, so we’re always on the same page.

What do you do in your spare time?

I spend as much time as I can with my wife and kids. While I still enjoy sports, most of my time is spent cheering on my kids in their athletic endeavors. I’m also an avid outdoorsman and I enjoy getting outside as much as I can.