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Home / WJA 2018 / Litigation Practitioner: Julianne P. Story

Litigation Practitioner: Julianne P. Story

Husch Blackwell

A national conversation on workplace sexual misconduct, boosted by the #MeToo movement, has elevated the work of lawyers such as Julianne Story.

Story, a partner at Husch Blackwell in Kansas City, leads the firm’s Labor & Employment practice group. Her own practice focuses on the health care industry, where she represents companies in a variety of work-related matters.

She said high-profile cases in the media have increased the public’s level of interest in her practice.

“We haven’t necessarily seen an increase in the claims yet, but we have seen or we’ve received a lot of inquiries from employers wanting to make sure that their compliance initiatives are in line with what’s expected and what will enable them to minimize any risk,” she said.

The Kansas City native said she first became interested in labor and employment law as a student at the University of Kansas School of Law. An enthusiastic professor, Elinor Schroeder, sparked her interest in pursuing the area herself.

After graduating from KU in 1991, she began her legal career at the Jackson County Counselor’s Office. The job represented a great opportunity to gain experience in litigation and client counseling.

Through that work, Story met lawyers from other Kansas City firms, including Blackwell, Sanders, Matheny, Weary & Lombardi, now Husch Blackwell. She joined the firm in 1994. Story said what draws her to the practice area is interesting subject matter and work that is people-oriented.

“Some of it is really regulatory, but a lot of it is about perception, particularly discrimination,” she said. “Getting to the heart of the facts to tell a story through the witnesses is interesting.”

Story said her practice doesn’t include only litigation – it also focuses on preventing issues from arising for employers. That can include drafting policies for companies, conducting training on workplace issues and advising on day-to-day human-resources matters, she said.

Story also handles investigations for companies, from discrimination and harassment claims to financial wrongdoing.

Outside her practice, Story works to advance other women in the profession as a founder of the firm’s enrichment program for women, True North, now in its 11th year. Through True North, the firm regularly holds networking programs for women attorneys on a variety of subjects, such as negotiation strategies or women’s heart health. Some are outwardly-focused, allowing attorneys to invite their contacts outside the firm.

The idea for True North stemmed from women lawyers who, while meeting for lunch, talked about their experiences and how they differed from those of their male colleagues, Story said.

“We wanted to build camaraderie with each other and just connect with clients,” she said.

She said she didn’t play golf, and bonding over football didn’t interest her, either.

“I thought what I’d like to do is to learn something, have a meal and get to know each other,” she said.

The program started in Kansas City and now extends to the firm’s other offices.

“Now it’s just one of several programs that our firm offers for the advancement of women and recruitment and retention of women lawyers,” she said.

Through her career, Story said one change she’s observed is that the profession now includes more women.

“It used to be that it was unique to have opposing counsel be female,” she said. “Now I go to a case-management conference and the defense lawyer is female, the plaintiff’s lawyer is female and the judge is female, and that is different.”