When she was young, Lecia Johnson didn’t dream about becoming a lawyer.
No one in her family or any friends had anything to do with a corporate law firm. And she never had an “a-ha” moment when she realized a law career was exactly what she wanted.
“I can’t say I was committed to a life of being a lawyer when I went to law school,” said Johnson, who now is a shareholder in the Tax and Employee Benefits Division of Milwaukee-based Godfrey & Kahn.
But she did get an inkling along the way, in part from time she spent taking classes in international business and French at Illinois Wesleyan University. She spent a lot of time studying abroad, she said, and that sparked an interest in international law.
Still, it wasn’t enough to prevent her from viewing the University of Iowa Law School, where she studied international law, as a possible steppingstone to business school.
For Johnson, 41, the realization that she had found the right career happened gradually, through a steady sense of job satisfaction after working a few years as an attorney.
Sixteen years later, all spent at Godfrey & Kahn, she is seeing other gradual changes. She started out concentrating heavily on international law, but that has shifted over time to employee benefits.
She also made the switch from associate to shareholder. That change, she said, was one of the hardest she has gone through.
“Just to ready yourself for that,” Johnson said, “both on a technical basis and a mental basis.”
Whatever changes might occur in her career, she has the backing of the firm’s managing partner, Nicholas Wahl. He described Johnson as gifted and intelligent and as having no interest in the spotlight.
There isn’t just one trait that defines her talent as an attorney, he said. She’s solid in all her endeavors.
“As the managing partner of the firm,” Wahl said, “I can tell you we’re very fortunate to have her on our team.”
And now, the woman who wasn’t sure about a law career until she was a few years into it is helping others who are just getting started. Johnson said the hardest part of her job now is “trying to work with and train associates and make sure I’m giving them the training and mentoring they need to move forward.”