Features

Katie Johnson – Match Group 

Matching her legal acumen and passion for helping others 

Match Group, through its portfolio companies, is a leading provider of digital technologies designed to help people make meaningful connections. Match Group’s global portfolio of brands includes Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and The League. With an impressive legal background and a deep commitment to user safety and privacy, Katie Johnson is a key player in navigating the complex legal landscape that supports Match Group’s diverse platforms. 

Katie Johnson | Sr. Corporate Litigation Counsel | Match Group

Katie Johnson | Sr. Corporate Litigation Counsel | Match Group | Photo Credit: Bridget Daehler

“My docket runs the gamut, from managing outside counsel in multi-billion dollar matters to handling smaller matters, but I  bring passion and focus to every case I work on. Sometimes the smaller matters take up a lot of our time because we handle them mostly in-house,” Johnson tells Vanguard during an interview in April. “But each case has to be addressed.” 

In her role, Johnson, alongside the dedicated litigation team, advances Match Group’s mission of sparking meaningful connections for every single person worldwide. Her responsibilities encompass a wide array of legal and strategic functions, all while ensuring that the company remains at the forefront of innovation in the online dating industry. Johnson’s work is critical in maintaining the delicate balance between encouraging authentic user interactions and safeguarding personal information. Her expertise helps mitigate legal risks and enhance the overall user experience. 

“I believe in fostering connections beyond screens, helping ensure interactions on our platforms are safer, more meaningful and authentic,” Johnson says. 

Managing active litigation  

Johnson is involved in all aspects of litigation, from reviewing briefs, strategizing with outside counsel for hearings, preparing witnesses for depositions and attending trials.  

“This hands-on approach is something not all in-house departments can accommodate,” Johnson says. “We are lucky.” 

Katie Johnson | Sr. Corporate Litigation Counsel | Match Group 

Photo Credit: Patrick Kleineberg

Johnson primarily handles individual consumer arbitrations and small claims cases. She manages these matters internally where possible and attends hearings. Johnson and her team strive to de-escalate these situations and determine the merit of the claims. 

Another crucial aspect of Johnson’s role involves collaborating with brand lawyers on feature launches, ensuring compliance with the evolving legal landscape. Johnson emphasizes the importance of proactive legal guidance to avoid potential lawsuits.  

Johnson’s portfolio includes working with regulatory agencies, defending employment matters and managing outside counsel in complex commercial litigation.  

Advancing user safety, privacy 

Johnson also works closely with the Match Group brand attorneys responsible for launching features that enhance user safety within dating apps. Johnson’s experience working with victims of domestic violence and human trafficking helps to provide a nuanced perspective when assisting brand attorneys with litigation-related safety measures and handling individual consumer matters.  

Collaborating closely with brand and privacy lawyers, Johnson advises on consent language for new features enhancing user experience, including those dealing with photo verification through facial recognition technology. This technology works to combat catfishing and fraudulent activities by matching user selfies with profile pictures. She emphasizes the importance of compliance with data privacy laws and ensures transparency regarding the storage and use of biometric data, as well as user consent.  

Katie Johnson | Sr. Corporate Litigation Counsel | Match Group 

Photo Credit: Bridget Daehler

Her expertise on laws impacting technology companies and her writing skills allow her to communicate complex legal concepts concisely and engagingly, making legal implications more accessible to the average user. 

In addition to her work on safety features, Johnson has been involved in updating the brands’ terms of use. She drafts arbitration provisions and has implemented processes to verify claims on the front end, which has led to a more efficient and effective process. The litigation team’s paralegals, Nathan Lyons and Sue Csizmadia, assist the team in verifying user claims. 

Early aspirations for the law 

Johnson’s interest in law began early in Little Rock, Arkansas. Influenced by her mother, a paralegal, and inspired by her cousin’s attendance at Harvard Law School during her elementary school years, Johnson envisioned a straightforward path to a legal career. This early exposure set her on a dedicated journey to becoming a lawyer, and she never considered any other profession. 

Katie Johnson | Sr. Corporate Litigation Counsel | Match Group 

Photo Credit: Patrick Kleineberg

Johnson pursued a political science degree from the University of Arkansas, laying a solid foundation for her legal ambitions. She then earned her JD from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. 

Upon completing her education, Johnson spent nearly three years as a litigation associate at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. This role was crucial in developing her legal expertise and career trajectory. Johnson gained extensive trial and deposition experience at Akin, which she describes as having fast-forwarded her career. These hands-on experiences helped her discover what she enjoyed about the legal profession.  

While she found taking part in depositions and trials engaging, she began to contemplate her lifestyle and long-term career goals. Johnson enjoyed preparing business witnesses and drafting briefs more than a litigator’s often hectic and unpredictable life. This introspection was crucial in her decision to pivot to an in-house role. 

Johnson joined Match Group in June 2021 and advanced to the role of senior corporate litigation counsel by March 2024. This transition to in-house litigation came earlier in her career than she anticipated, as she wasn’t actively seeking a new position then. However, the role at Match Group was an ideal fit, allowing her to focus on litigation work without appearing in court.  

“This position offered the best of both worlds, engaging in complex litigation while maintaining a more balanced lifestyle,” Johnson says. “My work at Match Group is diverse and cutting-edge, contributing to the company’s mission of helping people make meaningful connections.” 

Published on: June 24, 2024

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