Hi - I’m Shontavia. Depending on when and where you find me, I’m teaching law students, advising startups and entrepreneurs, or speaking and writing about the law.

Through my work as director of Drake University Law School’s Intellectual Property Law Center, I get to work with future lawyers every day and develop programs and workshops that foster creativity and tech advancement. In my law firm, Jackson Johnson LLC, I help entrepreneurs and inventors protect their biggest, best ideas and develop game-changing businesses around those ideas. As a speaker and writer, I get to communicate with others about my own biggest, best ideas and participate in global discussions about innovation and the future. 

I do these things because, well, something inside me says that I should. I’m asked about why and how I do what I do a lot. Well-meaning family and colleagues often suggest that I narrow my focus or take on less. My only response is that I do not compromise on my belief that God has placed me on earth with a very special assignment … so, when He directs my path I just go. I know without question that I’m walking in my purpose, so it’s all good.

Shontavia Johnson

I know that teaching is in my blood. My mother spent her entire career educating kids in some of the poorest public schools in the United States, and I watched her mold and save the lives of countless students. Seeing her dedication to education inspired me, and I use the lessons she’s taught me each and every day.

I believe strongly in the power of educating the masses. Because of this, I want to bridge the divide between academia and the public through my work online and in the physical world.

I’ve always loved to read. I’m curious about so many different things and enjoy learning about people, places, things, and ideas. One of my favorite books is The Four Agreements because it made me take several long, hard looks at myself and how I operate in the world. It taught me to be impeccable in my word and do my best – and to forgive myself when I fall short.  I’ve made many mistakes, and I appreciate them just as much as the successes.

I’m attracted to the word innovation. I love new, big ideas and have spent years working with the most creative people in law, business, entertainment, and science & engineering.

I believe that the South has the best food on the planet, and I’ve seen many corners of the world! From sweet tea and grits to cornbread and collard greens, I grew up eating the most amazing meals in my small South Carolina town. Even so, my parents always encouraged me to see other parts of the world, and traveling is one of my favorite things to do.

I love adventure sports. I’ve bungee jumped from the highest bungee-facility on the planet (in South Africa), sky-dived over the Bridges of Madison County in Iowa, and hiked the mountains of China. I not-so-secretly believe that if I can test my limits this way, anything else I encounter must be doable.

I am grateful that I get to do what I do. Whether teaching, counseling, speaking or writing, I believe in being of service to others. I hope that something I post here helps you on your journey.

Thanks for visiting.

With Gratitude,


Shontavia Johnson


Shontavia Johnson serves as a highly acclaimed law professor, attorney, speaker and author. Named one of America’s Top 40 Young Lawyers by the American Bar Association, she directs the Intellectual Property Law Center at Drake University Law School and manages Jackson Johnson LLC, a boutique law firm providing intellectual property and business law services to startups and entrepreneurs. Her life’s mission is to help people protect and develop their biggest, best ideas so that they can create a better world.  She has also founded A Different World, an initiative dedicated to empowering professionals in three core areas - professional development, social networking, and community engagement.


Shontavia Johnson, the first tenured African-American woman on the Drake University Law School faculty, serves as the Kern Family Chair in Intellectual Property Law and Director of the Intellectual Property Law Center. She teaches Introduction to Intellectual Property, Trademark and Unfair Competition Law, Internet Law, Entertainment Law, and Property Law. She was recently placed on the prestigious Fulbright Specialist roster and was named one of the Top 40 Young Lawyers in America by the American Bar Association.  

Shontavia also founded and manages Jackson Johnson LLC, a boutique law firm serving entrepreneurs and entertainers. She frequently counsels clients in all areas of intellectual property law and consults with clients on entrepreneurial growth and development. She is registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and a licensed mediator and arbitrator.

Shontavia’s publications have appeared in the Berkeley Technology Law Review, the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review, the John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law, and the Arkansas Law Review. In 2014, Shontavia’s article, Trademark Territoriality in Cyberspace: An Internet Framework for Common Law Trademarks, was awarded the International Trademark Association Ladas Memorial Award, a competition that identifies the best article in the world on a trademark law topic.

Shontavia has been named an Inspiring Woman in STEM by INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine and received the American Arbitration Association A. Leon Higginbotham Fellowship, the Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys Gertrude Rush Award, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Outstanding Alumnus Award, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation 42 Under 40 Alumni Award. She was also named one of 40 Lawyers Under 40 by the National Bar Association and IMPACT. 

Shontavia received a B.S. in Biosystems Engineering from Clemson University, where she was a Palmetto Fellows Scholar, Coca-Cola Clemson Scholar, and a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar. She received her J.D. from the University of Arkansas School of Law, where she was associate editor of the Arkansas Law Review and a member of the National Criminal Procedure Moot Court team. While in law school, she was named a Vincent W. Foster Scholar, Jim G. Ferguson Scholar, and Harold Flowers Law Society Scholar, and she also served as a judicial extern to Judge Jimm Larry Hendren of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Shontavia also studied international law and comparative constitutional law at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Of Shontavia's many roles, she views her role as a wife and mother to be the most important.