When Julianne Story was a young attorney in the Jackson County Counselor’s Office, more senior lawyers would hand her a stack of files and tell her to let them know if she had questions.
“It was scary but excellent experience, and when I did have questions, they were wonderful teachers,” said Story, who is now a partner and executive board member at Husch Blackwell in Kansas City.
As such, Story understands the importance of mentorship and made a deliberate effort to reach out to new attorneys and staff members in 2021, when people were still working from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning there was little opportunity for organic relationship building.
That’s just one example of Story’s leadership at the firm, where she has worked for three decades.
“She always, always takes time out of her day, out of her schedule to meet with more junior attorneys or more junior partners to talk about anything, whether it be personal matters or legal advice,” said Courtney Steelman, an associate attorney at Husch Blackwell. “She never makes you feel as though you are taking time away from her.”
During 2021, Story was also one of the hosts of the firm’s first virtual retreat, which received more than 90% participation among its 2,500 employees, she said. That included leading two sessions on what Husch Blackwell should look like in 2025.
Story worked to solicit people’s opinions “in a way that didn’t necessarily put them on the spot but let them know that their voice mattered,” she said.
In addition to the more formal efforts at the retreat, Story also held virtual coffee meetings and check-ins to give new attorneys “the most normal assimilation that we could in a very abnormal environment,” she said.
“I think that the uncertainty and isolation was difficult for everybody. It was difficult for new lawyers or lawyers who lived alone, who did not have a family or even a pet, and for those people it was even more important to have the outreach that I and others in leaderships made a concerted effort” on, said Story.
Story was also among the firm’s leaders who examined the firm’s support services, which were upended by the pandemic.
“We learned that people don’t have to be in the same office in order to work as an efficient team,” said Story “That might mean somebody in Kansas City is working with a paralegal in Milwaukee or an accounting support in Denver.”
And Story continued to help younger attorneys like Steelman.
“As we have new classes of attorneys come in after they pass the bar [exam], Steelman said, Story “has really helped adapt and continue that mentorship and guidance from behind our computer screens.”