She started her career as a patent agent at the NASA-Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. She joined the Webb law firm in 1984, and shattered the glass ceiling by first becoming a director and then the vice president of the firm. Her practice areas include intellectual property related to chemical and medical products and processes, along with a tidy bit of IP licensing and enforcement. She supports clients in developing new products, discovering new technologies, and protecting their patents, trademarks, and copyright interests in medical research, chemistry, and health care.
In love with her profession, Johnson has authored numerous articles and delivers frequent presentations on biotechnology and intellectual property law. Her published works include “How Many Lawyers Can Balance on the Head of a DNA Chip?” (Biotechnology Law Report, June 2002), and "Utility Plant Patents-A Practical Introduction" (Biotechnology Law Report, October 2002). A prolific writer, her other published works include:
- “Trademarks: Evolving Law, Practice and The Lollipop Lady,” 71 J.P.T.O.S. 759, 1989
- “A Practical Guide to the Festo Case,” (Co-Author with David C. Hanson), The Practical Lawyer reprinted in the Pennsylvania Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Section newsletter, Spring 2003, Vol. 7, No. 1.
- “Seven Strategic Initiatives Against Restriction Requirements.” Intellectual Property Today, December 2005.
But Barbara’s love of her profession has not made her career-obsessed, or oblivious to the world around her. Johnson involves herself actively in social work and advocates for foundation initiatives offering gender-specific drug-and-alcohol treatments for nonviolent female offenders. An accomplished classical pianist and vocalist, she serves as a director for the annual piano competition sponsored by the the Steinway Society of Western Pennsylvania and is past chair of the Obershenk Medallion Trust, a foundation providing professional development resources to exceptionally gifted singers. Barbara Johnson has cultured an achievement profile that very few ever attain – a perfect combination of sciences and arts ruled over by law.