Like many who graduated from college in the middle of the Great Recession, Juliane Rodriguez found herself thrust into an unexpected economic reality.
She completed her undergraduate studies at Saint Louis University in 2009, ending up with a marketing degree and limited career opportunities. She hadn’t thought of going to law school until she decided to take the LSAT with a college roommate who also was taking it.
SLU made it easy for her to apply to its law school and to continue her education there, she said.
“So I went to law school, and my roommate became a second-grade teacher,” she quipped.
Luckily, law school suited her. She graduated in 2012 and has been in the legal field ever since.
While in law school, Rodriguez was drawn to classes focused on practical skills, all of which ended up focusing on civil litigation, she said. She graduated with a concentration in civil litigation skills. Also at SLU, she was a student attorney for the appellate litigation division of SLU’s Legal Clinics and clerked for the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois.
“Both of those were great, and it gave me a chance to be in the courtroom,” she said. “I was in a courtroom as a law student more than I was as a first- or second-year associate.”
Out of law school, she worked for nearly two years for Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson. She also did a short stint at the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley before joining Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale in 2014.
She stayed with Greensfelder for about six years, working in the firm’s general litigation department, where she said she was a jack of all trades, representing corporate clients on matters ranging from restrictive covenants to medical malpractice.
Earlier this year, she left Greensfelder to become a law clerk at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. She works with U.S. Magistrate Judge Shirley Padmore Mensah and Chief Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker.
Rodriguez sees her current role as akin to that of the judges’ associate — she’s helping with research and writing, and instead of working to argue a point, she’s trying to find the right answer to legal questions before her.
“It’s a lot of the same work, just from a different viewpoint,” she said.
She said she hadn’t initially considered the possibility of working as a law clerk, but during a mediation session, a fellow attorney told her about a clerkship the attorney had done for a federal judge. That attorney told her it had been a great experience and shared news of the opening.
Rodriguez applied and got the job. The position is limited to a four-year term, which she said gives her the flexibility to return to private practice at the term’s end, if she desires.
“I just thought it would kind of be a good opportunity to see litigation from a different angle,” she said. “It’s still litigation I’m dealing with. I think it will make me a better advocate working from this side.”
Of her past work, she said she’s especially proud of pro bono cases she handled while at Greensfelder, including a landlord-tenant case for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and prisoner civil rights cases.
Outside of the office, Rodriguez enjoys running and volunteers for Girls on the Run, a physical activity-based youth development program. She is also a theater buff and is looking forward to shows returning to the Fox Theater and The Muny.