Alston & Bird is expanding its consumer financial services and public policy capabilities with the addition of Brian Johnson, deputy director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), who will join the firm in March as partner in Washington, D.C.
“Brian’s impressive combination of experience and leadership in government regulation and oversight in the financial services industry is second to none,” said Chris Frieden, Alston & Bird partner and co-chair of the firm’s Financial Services & Products Group. “He will be a strong voice and advocate for our clients on legal and policy issues at the most senior levels in the CFPB and across Washington.”
Johnson has served as the CFPB’s deputy director since May 2019. As second-in-command of the agency and principal advisor to CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger, he has been responsible for all policy development and strategic planning and execution of the CFPB’s examination, enforcement, rulemaking, and research activities. He has served as the director’s representative in high-level and sensitive matters involving Congress; the Departments of the Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, and Education; federal regulatory agencies such as the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; as well as state organizations, including the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and National Association of Attorneys General.
Johnson is also credentialed in the FinTech regulatory space. He developed and led the implementation of the CFPB’s Office of Innovation, which launched in 2018 as a regulatory framework designed to reduce potential barriers to innovation as the financial services industry develops new products and services related to cryptocurrencies, blockchain technologies and microlending, and loans by individuals.
“The CFPB’s legal and regulatory framework, which is mirrored by numerous state regulators and attorneys general, continues to be a significant challenge for many in the industry,” said Nanci Weissgold, Alston & Bird partner and co-leader of the firm’s Consumer Financial Services Team. “Brian brings an insider’s view of the CFPB and its relationships with the executive branch and Congress that will serve our clients well on matters ranging from regulatory and compliance issues and examinations to enforcement and related litigation.”
Johnson first joined the CFPB in December 2017 as senior advisor to then-Acting Director Mick Mulvaney and was named policy director in April 2018. He became acting deputy director and principal advisor to the agency’s current director in July 2018.
Earlier in his career, Johnson served on the House Financial Services Committee, where he spent more than five years in various positions, including senior counsel, chief financial institutions counsel, and policy director. While on the committee, he led the policy and legislative work for the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee on issues related to consumer protection and credit, mortgage origination, credit reporting, banking, and data security.
Before joining Congress, Johnson served on the staff of former Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, now governor, and the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Johnson also clerked for the Hon. Terrence O’Donnell, former justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio.
“Brian’s experience both at the CFPB and in Congress will be a boost to our clients as they pilot the consumer finance regulatory and enforcement cross-currents at both the federal and state levels,” said Dennis Garris, partner in charge of Alston & Bird’s Washington, D.C. office. “Brian’s addition will complement our other recent arrivals, adding to our deep and dynamic bench of attorneys whose insights and knowledge serve our clients’ most important business needs in Washington and nationally.”
Johnson is the most recent addition to Alston & Bird’s Washington, D.C. office. He follows Jason Levine, who arrived from Vinson & Elkins in January as litigation partner; Kathleen Benway, a former Federal Trade Commission official who joined in December from Wilkinson Barker Knauer as government investigations partner; Richard Slowinski, who arrived from Baker McKenzie as tax partner in October; and Jane Lucas, who joined in September from the White House as public policy and health care counsel.