Philip McBride Johnson

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Philip McBride Johnson
Occupation Attorney (deceased)
Location Jacksonville, FL

The late Philip McBride Johnson was a futures and derivatives products attorney who served as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from 1981 through 1983 and was a key figure in the drafting of commodities trading regulations.[1] [2] He was a partner of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP.[3]

In March of 2009, Johnson was inducted into the Futures Industry Association Futures Hall of Fame.[4]


As a commodities lawyer, Johnson helped draft key provisions of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act of 1974 that made the agency the sole regulator of the U.S. futures industry.

As chairman of the CFTC, he reached a jurisdictional agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission named the "Shad-Johnson Accord" after Johnson and the then-chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, John Shad. The accord paved the way for futures on stock indexes. This agreement later became part of the Commodity Exchange Act. It was later repealed in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, paving the way for single stock futures trading in the U.S.

Johnson also approved the first stock-index futures contracts, reopened option trading on exchanges after 35 years of inactivity, and allowed the first cash-settled futures contracts.

Johnson helped to create trading linkages between the gold and crude oil markets in New York and Sydney, between securities exchanges in New York and Amsterdam, and between currency markets in New York and Hong Kong. These linkages allowed investors to enter or exit the market approximately 16 hours a day.

Johnson also helped create the world’s first futures contracts on a U.S. dollar index, the European Currency Unit. He has served on many U.S. and international boards and committees, including five government advisory panels in the commodities area and twice as a director of the Futures Industry Association. He is the author of Derivatives Regulation, the first modern legal treatise on the subject. He also published a business guide entitled Derivatives: A Manager’s Guide to the World’s Most Powerful Financial Instruments (McGraw-Hill, 1999).[5]

Johnson headed the exchange-traded commodities, futures and derivative products practice group at the New York law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom before his retirement at the end of 2010. He joined Skadden, Arps in 1984 after 20 years of practice and government experience in the commodities field. He has served as general outside counsel to several futures markets and self-regulatory organizations.

He also contributed to the development of the first interest-rate futures contract, the first central exchange for securities options and the first national self-regulatory organization for the futures brokerage community.

He was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2008 in the specialty of derivatives law, as well as in Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2008. He also has taught courses in derivatives law and regulation at the University of Virginia School of Law and other academic institutions. The Chicago Board of Trade honored Mr. Johnson as part of its 30th anniversary celebration in 2006, saying that he “played a critical role in the development of the first interest rate futures.” He also is a member of the board of editors of the International Financial Law Review and is referenced in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Law.


Johnson received a Bachelor of Arts (with Honors) from Indiana University and an LL.B. from Yale University, where he was managing editor of the Yale Law Journal.


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