Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Curtis A. Johnson

June 1, 2019

By: Curtis A. Johnson

Those who are acquainted with Curt Johnson know him as a dynamo. With a full complement of energy, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit, Curt is immersed in building his law practice, contributing to the greater Rochester community and spending time with his young family. 

A Rochester native and commercial and creditors’ rights litigator at Bond, Curt is solidifying his reputation as a formidable attorney, combining the sensibility of his upstate New York upbringing and education with the big city experiences he gained while working in New York City and Washington, D.C. 

Curt is a valuable asset to clients both locally and around the state, representing publicly traded companies, financial institutions, universities and closely-held businesses. He has also litigated inter-family disputes of high-net worth individuals over issues including guardianships, will and gift contests and other estate litigation.

His relative youth—Curt was recently recognized among Rochester Business Journal’s 40 Under 40—belies his significant experience in large-scale, multi-party litigation and protracted disputes that he gained while working at the New York City-based international law firm Milbank LLP.

While at Milbank, Curt played a role in a number of notable cases that gave him a solid foundation and contributed to his expertise and perspective, including Milbank’s defense of a commercial and investment bank against the Adelphia Recovery Trust, a group of bondholders suing Adelphia Commutations Corp.’s lenders billions of dollars on a theory that their lending practices caused Adelphia’s bankruptcy. Curt also played a role in the representation of one of two ownership groups in dispute over control of AriZona Iced Tea, the top-selling ready-to-drink tea in the United States. 

Curt’s path to his current position at Bond started when he left home for SUNY Albany to study political science, which included a semester-long internship in Washington, D.C. Curt has mused that once he got to Albany Law School he thought that he would go into government, so he spent his first summer working in the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. Wanting to broaden his horizons, the next year he accepted a summer position at Milbank and quickly discovered the appeal of big, high-dollar-value cases. 

When Curt left New York City for Rochester, he was well prepared to launch his litigation practice. “While I loved the energy of New York City and the opportunities it presented for me, I wanted to be back in Rochester to settle down and eventually raise a family.” 

At Bond, Curt was quickly identified as a leader within the office and in the community. He is an active participant in the firm’s associate education program, organizing monthly meetings where a firm partner or outside speaker coaches firm associates on marketing, networking and career growth. 

Curt also organizes Bond’s American Diabetes Association teams for its Tour de Cure fundraiser. In his first year at the firm, Curt recruited 86 cyclists from six of the firm’s offices across New York State, raising more than $20,000 to fight diabetes. 

Community Outreach
When the Villa of Hope (formerly St. Joseph’s Villa) decided to start a young professionals board, Curt was recruited to serve as its inaugural chair. Curt wrote the group’s bylaws and brought a diverse group of young professionals together to raise money and awareness for Rochester youth and families who have suffered serious trauma. Curt will be joining the board of the Villa of Hope in July 2019.

In 2017, Curt joined the board of Causewave Community Partners (formerly the Rochester Ad Council), and dove right into the important issues facing that organization, providing his unique insight as a lawyer when the need arises. 

Since 2016 Curt has served as a member of the Monroe County Bar Association’s Board of Trustees and as a member of its Executive Committee. He helped see the bar association through the transition from one executive director to the next, serving on the executive director search committee in 2015. He continues to plan innovative programing and volunteer his time to promote lawyers, particularly young lawyers, including by organizing a “Managing Partner Roundtable” where he put the heads of Rochester law firms on the spot, asking them questions that their associates and prospective associates were reticent to ask.