An Ada attorney’s turn in the spotlight begins with the April issue of Oklahoma Magazine.
Erik C. Johnson, 39, was selected for the magazine’s 40 Under 40 feature, which showcases 40 of the state’s top young professionals. Johnson is one of five attorneys profiled in this year’s feature, which includes a priest, a specialist in infectious diseases and the senior business development manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
The feature appears in the upcoming issue and is available on the magazine’s website, complete with online interviews.
The magazine reviewed nominations submitted by the candidates’ peers and professional associates before selecting the members of this year’s class, according to the website. Johnson was nominated by Dr. Jeff Hale, president of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami.
A year and a half ago, Johnson coordinated a nearly $600,000 bequest from the town of Picher for NEO A&M, he said Wednesday. The former mining town in northeast Oklahoma is in the middle of the Tar Sands Superfund Site, the largest and one of the most polluted Superfund sites in the country.
The federal government bought out Picher’s residents in 2008 and provided funds to help people relocate to other communities.
Johnson said Ottawa County and the state both wanted to claim money in Picher’s general fund that was left over from a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Johnson said he had negotiated the $1.4 million settlement on Picher’s behalf.
“We paid off this water tower and paid off some of the other debts as we were closing, because it was a lead-impacted mining community — Superfund site — they were shutting down,” he said. “The county and the state were trying to lay claim to the monies, and we were able to fight that little fight and allow the town of Picher to contribute it to NEO A&M.”
Johnson said in exchange for the bequest, college officials agreed to store Picher’s documents at NEO A&M. He added the college is renovating one of its buildings to accommodate a mining museum, and officials have established a scholarship honoring a longtime Picher employee.
With the college’s assistance, the Picher Miners’ Reunion relocated its annual get-together from Picher to the NEO A&M campus.
Johnson said he was surprised and pleased when Hale called him with news of the nomination.
“It was nice that he did that for me,” Johnson said.
Johnson learned that he was one of Oklahoma Magazine’s 40 Under 40 earlier this month, but he was asked to keep it to himself until the magazine formally announced the selection.
The Oklahoma Magazine feature isn’t the only new development in Johnson’s professional life.
In January, Johnson became the assistant district attorney for Coal County. He works as the assistant DA twice a week, and his duties include prosecuting felony and misdemeanor cases and advising the Coal County commissioners.
Johnson also serves as the city attorney for the town of Commerce, and he has a private practice focusing on business law and civil litigation.
Starting today, Johnson will merge his practice with the law firm of Mayhue and Stafford, where he will join his fellow attorneys Charles Mayhue and Susie Bolin.
Johnson said he has a good relationship with Mayhue and has assisted him on several issues, so combining the two firms was a good fit.
“Charlie’s principal area of practice is oil and gas,” he said. “I do a lot of litigation work, and Susie does a lot of estate planning. So it’s going to be a good marriage.”