Getting Personal: Julie King

Getting Personal: Julie King

Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, Champaign attorney JULIE KING, 48, chats with staff writer Paul Wood. King is a fan of the Rolling Stones and also enjoys studying medieval England.

How did your parents influence your life? Did they encourage you to become an attorney?

My father, Peter Feuille, was a labor arbitrator, so I grew up with exposure to arbitration and mediation, as well as his commitment to fairness. Both my father and my mother, Susan Feuille, were very supportive of my decision to attend law school, particularly since before then, I had a career as an editor that was not destined to set me up for a life of financial security.

Do you have any funny family stories?

My dad and I ironically got in trouble with the security at a Rolling Stones concert during their "No Security" tour. We were in the last row on the floor at the United Center, and everyone in front of us stood on their chairs for a better view, so we did too. We were the easiest for the security guys to reach, so they told us we had to sit down, and my dad said they should make everyone in front of us sit down first. They said we could sit down or leave and see nothing at all.

What are your goals in supporting and encouraging women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs?

While women have made great strides in the legal and business communities as business owners and executives, we still face obstacles and are underrepresented in those positions. I try to support entrepreneurial women through my practice by making sure they feel heard and respected and have their goals taken seriously and by working with them to ensure their businesses start on strong legal footing.

How do you do this?

I am a member of several woman-centric legal and business groups in town. I'm a board member of Women's Entrepreneurial Network and the East Central Illinois Women Attorneys Association, as well as a member of Executive Club, and I like to encourage women to join these organizations and take advantage of the unique programming designed to help them further their careers and build a strong network of professional support. The College of Law just had its first summit on women in leadership in the law, and it was a powerful event to attend and highlighted the need for putting in the effort to promote female leadership in law and other areas.

How has your practice changed?

I used to spend much of my time trying to fix client mistakes that could have been avoided. It was often frustrating, especially when the best possible result was never as good as if the mistake had never been made. Spending a little time and money on counsel before making important business decisions can help avoid spending much, much more time and money on counsel to try to undo damage from mistakes later. When I opened my own practice, I wanted to focus on helping clients avoid those mistakes through thoughtful and careful planning, whether it's with business ventures or estate planning.

How did you become obsessed with English medieval history? How do you keep up? Do you subscribe to scholarly journals? Or do you have favorite books?

My mother is a profound Anglophile, and that eventually rubbed off on me. I loved reading Chaucer in Middle English in college and being in Madrigals in high school. My mom took me to England about 10 years ago, and I saw my first medieval castles and cathedrals in person and was immediately hooked. The struggle for power in that period fascinates me, and I find the architecture beautiful and impressive.

What stimulates you to 'a possibly pathological need to keep going back to school'?

I think it's my desire not to stagnate and to create a career I love. Rather than accept a career path that was profoundly unsatisfying, I decided to invest time and money into reinventing my career. In 2012, I went back to school to get a master's degree in computer science so I could create better litigation support software, but once I completed the degree, the call of the practice of law was too strong. Now I'm taking physics classes so I can qualify to take the patent bar exam. That may be enough to cure me of taking any more formal classes.

What's next for you?

Right now, I'm working on growing my law practice and toward being admitted to the patent bar so I can offer more service to my business clients. After that, I'm not sure, but I like a challenge. Running for president seems to be popular, but that might be just a bit overly stressful, and I don't think I'd enjoy the wardrobe scrutiny.

Any other organizations?

I'm also on the board of the Champaign County Bar Association and as secretary try to get more people involved in the organization, particularly newer attorneys, and help foster a strong and supportive legal community serving our members as well as the community at large.

Who are your favorite musicians and why?

I'm a fan of classic rock. If I could listen to only one band for the rest of my life it would be the Rolling Stones, but Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty and a host of others are heavy hitters on my playlists. My dad took me to see the Stones twice and used to regale me with tales of seeing them in the '60s. I was rarely allowed to watch TV when school was in session, but he made sure I sat down and watched the "History of Rock and Roll" on PBS with him, so rock music was always an important part of my life. I spent a summer in my early 30s learning Stones and Led Zeppelin guitar riffs as an antidote to some ugly cases I was working on.

What's the happiest memory of your life?

The trip I took with my mom to England in September 2017. We were there for almost three weeks and had an amazing time. We're great travel companions. Second is getting hooded by my dad when I graduated from law school.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite? What would you serve?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Keith Richards and Elizabeth II. The stories would be amazing. I would serve something someone else made, as I don't cook much.

What's your best piece of advice?

It's never too late to try something new or different to improve the quality of your life, whether it's your career, your health or some other aspect. It may be incredibly difficult to make changes, but I've found it's always been worth it in the long run. I've gone back to school and rejuvenated my career in my 40s, and those things have taken an intense amount of effort, but the improvement that effort brought was absolutely worth it. Small changes can have a big effect, too, so if big changes are intimidating, start with small ones and build up.

What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?

Opening my own practice was probably the most life-changing decision and one of the best decisions I've ever made. It was long past time for me to be the one in charge of deciding which kinds of cases and clients I wanted to work with, and I finally worked up the courage to go for it. I saw Justice Sotomayor speak at Krannert in 2016, and that reminded me of what I love about being a lawyer. Her words about being persistent, working hard and being brave enough to pursue your dreams rekindled something in me that had been nearly extinguished by years of unsatisfying and frustrating practice.

How has that worked out?

My dad passed away a few years ago and never really got to see me be as happy with my career as he should have. That made me realize I needed to really take the reins and take the chances before any more time went by. It's nice now sharing my joy and achievements with my mom, without whom I could do none of what I'm doing now. She's my biggest cheerleader and reminder of how women in our family are incredibly resilient.

Do you have any regrets in your life? What are they?

Many. My biggest regret is not having a sufficient sense of self-confidence earlier in my life. That led to some bad decisions and missed opportunities, and I really held myself back because of it. It's one of the reasons I enjoy the work I do now to help women feel as powerful as they are and be as bold and successful as they want to be. It's so important to have a strong network of people who believe in you and have your back. I have one now, and it is wonderful. It's a particularly powerful thing when women work to support each other in their careers. I've had great mentors and other people who went out of their way to help boost my career. I feel it's important to pay that forward.

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