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Music leads Allex to a legal career

Music leads Allex to a legal career

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Johanna Allex | Stafford Rosenbaum
Johanna Allex | Stafford Rosenbaum

Johanna Allex’s journey toward a law career started with an oboe.

Before she was a lawyer, Allex was a professional oboist living in the Chicago suburbs. She was a member of the musicians union in Chicago, had undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fine arts and ran her own studio giving private music lessons.

“I decided I needed more education about how to manage my books,” said Allex, who now is a senior partner and board of directors member at Stafford Rosenbaum, Milwaukee.

So while her children still were toddlers, she started taking night classes in accounting. Eventually, she had accumulated enough credits to sit for the CPA exam.

Around that time, she said, she decided she wanted a law degree. That led her to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School when she was in her early 30s. She started law school when her son started kindergarten.

After graduation, she took a job with Michael Best & Friedrich in Milwaukee and then eventually broke off to start her own firm. A little more than a year ago, she left that firm for a spot at Stafford.

Chris Hughes, the firm’s managing partner, said he has known Allex for more than a decade, having worked with her on the National Heritage Land Trust. He said he always knew Allex was bright and articulate, but it was only when she joined Stafford that he realized how good she is at her job.

“Johanna has very high expectations, so she expects you’ll bring your A game,” Hughes said, “but she also creates opportunity.”

Allex’s practice centers on estate planning and trusts and working with small businesses. She said she helps clients make sure all the safety nets are in place and that the people they care for are protected.

“It’s a real privilege,” she said, “because it’s such a vulnerable time in their lives.”

The life of a lawyer is a world away from that of a musician, Allex said. That job had her performing Wednesday through Sunday nights and then teaching music on Mondays and Tuesdays.

But she no longer plays. Around the time she was considering going back to school, Allex said, she injured her jaw and couldn’t perform at the same level.

“I was at a crossroads,” she said.


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