Lawyer Channing Johnson was born on February 21, 1951 in Pasadena, California to Alvin and Jeffalyn Johnson. His mother was a primary school teacher who taught African American history, and a management consultant; and her sister, Betye Saar, is a well-known African American artist. Johnson graduated from John Muir High School in Pasadena in 1969. He went on to earn his B.A. degree in economics from Stanford University in 1972, and his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1975.
Channing began his legal career as a corporate associate at the law firm of Tuttle & Taylor in Los Angeles, California. In 1978, Los Angeles City Councilman Robert C. Farrell hired Johnson as his chief deputy where he worked until being appointed as president of the Economic Resources Corporation in Lynwood, California. In 1986, Johnson was hired by Kaye Scholer Fierman Hays & Handler in Los Angeles, where his clients included groups like the R&B group TLC. After joining Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in 1997, Stevie Wonder, GospoCentric Records, and SFX Entertainment also became clients. Johnson negotiated the $30 million acquisition of The Great Western Forum Arena for Bishop Kenneth Ulmer of the Faithful Central Bible Church, leading Johnson to expand his clientele to mega church leaders and their companies, including Bishop T.D. Jake’s TDJ Enterprises. When he joined Loeb and Loeb LLP as a partner in the entertainment and corporate practice groups, Johnson became the legal representative for Red Granite Pictures and other independent film companies. Johnson also served as counsel for KCET Television on their merger agreement with Link Media in 2012.
Johnson has served on the board of directors and as chair of KCET Television. He was taught as an adjunct professor of entertainment law at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California. Johnson has been named one of the Top Black Lawyers in the country by Black Enterprise magazine in 2003, and as a Southern California Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters in 2010.
Johnson, a resident of Los Angeles, California, has four children.
Channing Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 18, 2016.