Stephen Johnson obtained a degree in genetics from Cambridge University and then pursued a career in intellectual property (IP) law, initially in the United Kingdom at Bird & Bird and then in the United States.

He worked for Kirkland & Ellis LLP for over thirty years and was a founding partner of its New York and San Francisco offices, as well as the senior partner in its IP groups in those offices.

Since 2013, Mr. Johnson has written, taught, and consulted on IP in a business context, as well as working on data sharing in brain and mental health research. He is the author of The Economist Guide to Intellectual Property (Economist Books, 2015). He has taught as a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business since 2016. He co-created and has taught the courses “Protecting Ideas” and “Technology Licensing.” These courses for MBA students introduce business students to IP and how IP meshes with business strategy.

Mr. Johnson has extensive IP experience, including patent, brand, copyright, data, and software licensing; IP-based finance and secured lending; joint ventures and strategic alliances, software, consumer, and other M&A; data-related matters; and litigation management. As a consultant and retired attorney, he does not practice law, but he works as a team member with client’s counsel.

Mr. Johnson can be contacted by email through Bryan Vitner, managing director of business development and client services.

Employment History

One Mind
Chief intellectual property and policy officer
Acting executive director

Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
Founding partner of San Francisco office, senior partner in Intellectual Property Group
Founding partner of New York office, senior partner in Intellectual Property Group
Partner, associate, Chicago office

Bird & Bird
Articled clerk, solicitor


Trained mediator

Areas of Expertise


IIT Chicago Kent College of Law
JD, High Honors, 1984

College of Law
Solicitors Final Exam, Honours, 1980

Cambridge University
BA/MA, Genetics, 1978


  • Intellectual Asset Management Magazine (IAM)
    300 list of the world’s top IP strategists
  • Cambridge in America
    Member of board, former chair of Nominating and Audit Committees
  • SLS School San Francisco
    Member of Board, former Chair of Board
  • Admitted to State Bars of California, Illinois and New York; Solicitor (UK) –no longer practicing as an attorney or solicitor