Leaders to watch in 2021: Julia S. Acken, Jennings Strouss
Julia S. Acken
Background: Julia S. Acken focuses her practice in labor and employment law. She has defended numerous companies in gender, race and disability discrimination cases in state and federal court. Acken also has wide-ranging experience representing both public and private entities in EEOC claims, wage payment/overtime, wrongful termination, Davis-Bacon, and state and federal leave issues. She also currently serves as the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Role model: “My father is my primary role model. He was a human resources manager, which is probably where I got my interest in labor and employment law. He was a very hard worker and he always tried to perform his job fairly and ethically. I try to perform my job that way, too. I take my ethical obligations very seriously and I feel like being a good attorney means that you can achieve a good result for your client without compromising your values.”
Attraction to industry: “I initially was attracted to the legal field because I enjoyed debate and public speaking and I wanted to advocate on behalf of other people. I have been most surprised by the fact that the flashy parts of legal practice, like actual trial work and oral argument, are by no means the most important. Explaining the law and the legal process to your client and helping him or her get through some of the more uncomfortable or antagonistic parts of that process is much more important and harder to learn.”
Favorite book: “I can’t choose just one book. I am a history buff and I will read almost anything about World War II. Both of my grandfathers fought in the War and learning about what it might have been like for them helps me understand a little something about where I come from.”
Surprising fact: “I am about to earn my black belt in taekwondo. The entire process has been a lesson in humility, but I’m glad I did it!”