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Julia Drafahl, 31

Practice area: Employment law

Law school: University of Michigan

When Julia Drafahl came to Washington University it wasn’t to study law.

She was getting a master’s in art history and was attracted to St. Louis in part by its beautiful architecture. Today, Drafahl is an architect of employment defenses.

Her work on Railway Labor Act preemption in federal court has gained particular note. In one recent arbitration, her extensive research was able to turn up a case that supported RLA preemption and which opposing counsel had not discovered or addressed in their brief.

Thought of as a future leader of her firm, Drafahl has been accepted into the AAIM Young Professionals Program. She also remains involved with both the Human Resources Management Association of Greater St. Louis and Young Friends of the St. Louis Art Museum.

What is your biggest accomplishment this year?

Earlier this year, I drafted a complex motion to dismiss, arguing for dismissal based on res judicata,statute of limitations, and litigation privilege grounds. My firm gave me the opportunity to handle the oral argument, which led to a complete dismissal of the case.

What inspired you to get involved in the legal profession?

I’ve always loved research and writing. My work in employment law allows me to combine those interests with real-world issues.

What advice do you have for young lawyers?

Work hard. As a new attorney, you cannot match the experience, instincts, or knowledge of a more seasoned litigator. But a willingness to take on projects and put in the hours will make you appreciated and will help you develop the skill sets you need as an attorney.