Julia Potter didn’t set out in life to become a lawyer. It was a college course on constitutional law that made her reconsider a career in the profession.
“As a kid I was always told that I should be a lawyer because I was good at making an argument, but it sounded boring and you had to wear a suit,” she deadpanned. “When I went to college I was lucky enough to take a constitutional-law class that was taught by a law professor. I loved reading the cases and thinking things through. I felt like it came natural, so I decided to go to law school and never looked back.”
Before joining Boardman & Clark in Madison as an associate in 2015, she was a law clerk for the firm while she was attending the University of Michigan Law School.
Potter is a member of the firm’s real estate, local government and labor and employment practice groups. In her role, she assists individuals, businesses and municipalities with a wide range of legal issues involving real estate, land use and municipal law — from drafting and negotiating purchase and sale agreements, easements, leases and declarations to assisting both municipal and private-sector clients with development matters, zoning changes and variances, and all manner of disputes regarding real estate.
“Julia is simply one of the brightest, clearest thinkers I have ever encountered,” said Eileen Brownlee, a municipal attorney at Boardman & Clark. “Not only is she able to grasp the nettle of what are sometimes very unusual legal issues immediately, her analysis of those issues is to the point, well-reasoned, patiently dissected and understandable to both the lawyers with whom she works and the clients we serve.”
Potter feels strongly that it’s important to make the law understandable and accessible to her clients and help them find the most effective way to accomplish their goals. She works with her clients to find solutions to problems and strives to explain the law clearly and draft contracts and other legal documents in plain language.
“I grew up in Oregon, near Madison, so it is a privilege to be able to return to the area where I grew up and practice law,” Potter said. “A lot of what I do is helping municipalities grow and plan for the future. It is fun to get communities involved and get them thinking about what they want their area to look like in 10 to 15 years and what can be done in terms of zoning and comprehensive planning to make this happen.”
As a way to give back to future lawyers, she is one of the primary drivers in the development of young attorneys and clerks at the firm. Potter recently overhauled the firm’s summer clerk program to greatly improve the experience for the clerks and general effectiveness for the firm. This required countless hours over the course of many months and was a success because of her combination of organizational ability and amiability.
“One of the keys to my success was working as a clerk at my firm and discovering the different areas of practice. I want to be able to pay it forward and help other students develop into the lawyer they want to become,” Potter said.