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Providing quality legal expertise with common sense and small-town service.

Ariston E. Johnson

Ari is native to Watford City and has varied interests. He is a motorcycle and sports car enthusiast, an accomplished amateur musician, a commercially licensed pilot, and an outdoorsman. After graduating from Watford City High School, Ari attended the University of North Dakota and earned a degree in Computer Science. He then moved to the Phoenix, Arizona, area and worked there for one year, after which he decided to pursue his calling in the law. Ari graduated from the nation’s first law school, at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, in 2007 and moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, to begin his legal career. After four years of practicing law in Bismarck, the Bakken oil boom gave Ari the opportunity to move home to Watford City and join Johnson & Sundeen in 2011.

  • Education
    • Watford City High School, 2000
    • University of North Dakota, B.S., summa cum laude with departmental honors, 2000
      • Major: Computer Science
      • Minor: Mathematics
      • Member of Honors Program
      • Officer of Association of Computing Machinery
    • College of William & Mary School of Law, J.D., 2007
      • Member of Federalist Society
      • Researcher for Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal
      • Recipient of Courtroom 21 Basic Technology-Augmented Litigator Certificate
  • Admissions
    • Virginia, 2007 (inactive/associate status)
    • North Dakota, 2007
    • Minnesota, 2008
    • Montana, 2009
    • United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, 2008
    • United States District Court for the District of Montana, 2015
    • United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, 2019
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 2012
    • Supreme Court of the United States of America, 2016
  • Legal Associations
    • Virginia State Bar
    • State Bar Association of North Dakota
    • Minnesota State Bar
    • Montana State Bar
    • Upper Missouri Valley Bar Association
    • American Association for Justice
    • North Dakota Association of Justice
  • Practice Areas
    • Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
    • Products Liability
    • Oil and Gas, including litigation, lease review, pipeline easement review, surface use agreement review, gravel and scoria mining agreement review, and contract review
    • Business Formation, including corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLC)
    • Commercial Litigation
    • General Civil Litigation, all stages including jury trials and appellate practice
    • Appeals, state and federal courts
    • Probate
    • Estate Planning
    • Evictions
    • Collections
    • County and Municipal Government (current attorney for the planning and zoning commissions in both McKenzie County and Dunn County, North Dakota; former city attorney for Lincoln, North Dakota)
  • Selected Reported Cases
    • Schmidt v. Gateway Community Fellowship, 2010 ND 69, 781 N.W.2d 200 (negligence and immunity issues)
    • Reiss v. Komatsu Am. Corp., 735 F.Supp.2d 1125 (D.N.D. 2010) (products liability)
    • Brigham Oil v. Lario Oil, 2011 ND 154, 801 N.W.2d 677 (oil and gas, probate)
    • Gadeco v. Industrial Commission, 2012 ND 33, 812 N.W.2d 405 and 2013 ND 72, 830 N.W.2d 535 (oil and gas, administrative law)
    • Rickert v. Dakota Sanitation Plus, 2012 ND 37, 812 N.W.2d 413 (corporate governance)
    • Waldock v. Amber Harvest Corp., 2012 ND 180, 820 N.W.2d 755 (oil and gas, property rights)
    • Dish Network Service v. Laducer, 725 F.3d 877 (8th Cir. 2013) (tribal jurisdiction)
    • Wagner v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations, 2013 ND 219, 840 N.W.2d 81 (easements)
    • Dickson v. American Bankers Insurance Company, 739 F.3d 397 (8th Cir. 2014) (flood insurance)
    • Tank v. Citation Oil & Gas Corp., 2014 ND 123, 848 N.W.2d 691 (oil and gas)
    • Norby v. Kuykendall, 2015 ND 232, 869 N.W.2d 405 (riparian rights)
    • Kronberg v. Oasis Petroleum North America, 831 F.3d 1043 (8th Cir. 2016) (wrongful death)
    • Fleck v. Missouri River Royalty Corporation, 2015 ND 287, 872 N.W.2d 329 (oil and gas)
    • State v. Francis, 2016 ND 154, 882 N.W.2d 270 and Francis v. North Dakota, 137 S.Ct. 579, 196 L.Ed.2d 447 (2016) (election law and freedom of speech)
    • Environmental Driven Solutions v. Dunn County, 2017 ND 45, 890 N.W.2d 841 (county zoning jurisdiction)
    • Statoil Oil & Gas LP v. 1280 Royalties LLC, 2017 ND 148, 897 N.W.2d 1 (federal and state court jurisdiction)
    • Gerrity Bakken v. Oasis Petroleum North America, 2018 ND 180, 915 N.W.2d 677 (quiet title, deed interpretation, finality of judgments)
  • Other Activities
    • Member of Watford City First Lutheran Church Council, 2014-2018 and 2020-present
    • Boy Scouts of America, former youth member and current merit badge counselor
    • Road Trip Band of Bismarck, lead guitarist, 2008-2011
    • Commercial Pilot Certificate
    • Kitplane Building and Testing
    • Porsche Club of America High Performance Driver Education
    • American Sailing Association Certificate in Basic Keelboat Sailing

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Partner: Ross Sundeen

In addition to practicing law with Johnson & Sundeen, Ross is the Assistant Dunn County States Attorney.

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Partner: Ariston Johnson

Ariston joined JSLO in 2011 and has an excellent track record arguing appellate cases before the North Dakota Supreme Court.

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Partner: Aaron Weber

Aaron also worked as a wildland firefighter for four summers while in college. He received various certifications and was on one of the largest fires in New Mexico state history, the Las Conchas Fire.

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