Craig Winfield Johnson, a man who played a big role in the formation of Silicon Valley as we know it, died unexpectedly from a stroke suffered last Tuesday, according to his firm, Virtual Law Partners. He was 62 years old.
Johnson was a graduate of Yale and a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Ethiopia. After he graduated from Stanford law school, he went to work at Wilson Sonsini advising startups until he was bitten by the startup bug himself.
In the course of his career he founded two law firms: Venture Law Group, which represented Yahoo!, Hotmail, WebTV and other notable startups before it merged with Heller Ehrman in the wake of the dotcom bust, and Virtual Law Partners, a Web-based law firm that cuts down on overhead by letting attorneys share documents and back-office processes and keep 85% of what they bill (compared to the 33% kept by associates at conventional law firms).