In Memoriam: Gerald Phillip Johnston

Sign in front of law schooo
February 12, 2021

Gerald Phillip Johnston, Professor Emeritus of Law, passed away on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26, 2020, at the age of 83.

Professor Emeritus Johnston was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in nearby Bethesda, Maryland. He received an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and a law degree from Duke University Law School.

Following law school graduation, he returned to Washington, DC, to join the law firm Jones Day, where he specialized in wills and trusts and estates, and facilitated the establishment of the historic Hillwood Estate in the nation’s capital.

After 16 years as a partner at Jones Day, Professor Emeritus Johnston spent the next nine years teaching law at the University of Kentucky and Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. He came to GW Law in 1987 and taught courses in property, trusts and estates, and legal ethics until his retirement in 2005.

His scholarship included two seminal articles on legal ethics and malpractice in estate planning that have been cited by dozens of subsequent scholars, by many courts, and by the Restatement of Property - Wills and Other Donative Transfers. Professor Emeritus Johnston remained active during his retirement in the fields of legal ethics and trusts and estates, testifying as an expert witness in numerous cases and serving as a speaker at national conferences.