Julie Harris Nelson

Julie Harris Nelson headshot, African American woman with white collared shirt and a black blazer
Name:  Julie Harris Nelson
Job Title: ROIG Lawyers
City: Miami, Florida

You were recently named Partner at ROIG Lawyers.  What was your legal journey to becoming Partner?
I graduated from St. Thomas Law School and received my BBA from the University of Michigan.  In 1994, I was given a fantastic opportunity to become a prosecutor under the leadership of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Judge Jerald Bagley (Former State Attorney Deputy Chief).  The advocacy skills and values I learned as an Assistant State Attorney – leadership, integrity, team work, and passion for success – lead me to Roig in 2008.

What is the greatest challenge you faced in getting to where you are today?
My greatest personal challenge was losing my mother, younger brother, and grandmother within a three month period.  This was undoubtedly the most stressful period of my life.   Yet I continued to juggle a demanding career and motherhood.  In the words of Maya Angelou, I continued to rise.

What are the unique challenges faced by women in your area of practice?
Managing time limitations and the uphill battle for equality. Our fight for equality is not over.  Things are a lot easier than past generations because of what our fore-mothers overcame. However, we must continue to work twice as hard to get half as much done.  We must support each other daily through reminders that we can do it.  We have the intellect, we are educated, we have work experience, we are strong and have the ability to get the job done.

In your position, what do you do to promote women in the profession?
Everyday, I seek to lead by example and show that we can be great leaders in the law and in the community by giving back.  I encourage young lawyers to become active in their community by joining FAWL and organizations that demonstrate good will towards all human kind.

Which woman inspires you and why?
My grandmothers, each with six (6) children, sacrificed so much to reinforce the importance of a quality college education.  My grandmothers’ intellect and spiritual wisdom ensured that every child and grandchild earned a Master’s degree.  Watching these women give so unselfishly continues to inspire me to this day!

What will be the biggest challenge for young women lawyers in the next 10 years?
Balancing family life with your professional life will always be a challenge. Fifteen years ago, while preparing a case for trial, my Mom asked did you every think about how difficult it would be to practice law and raise a family. I was puzzled and automatically responded no.  I was doing what I loved, creating a family while practicing law.  As we balance our professional life with family, we must keep history at the forefront and never forget what our ancestors endured and accomplished. We must always remember their struggles and not let those sacrifices be in vain.

What advice do you have for young women lawyers today?
Stay committed towards your professional aspirations! Have a professional development plan and surround yourself with individuals who are supportive. Remember, you may experience personal set backs when you are trying to fulfill those personal aspirations but no one said it would be easy.

What can be done to accelerate gender equality?
Men and women must embrace gender equality together and not separately.  We must eliminate negatively charged comments and descriptions based on a woman’s emotions or physical characteristics.  Hence, we must educate people on feminism.  Feminism is not a dirty word.  A feminist is anyone that truly believes in the equality of men and women. We can be care givers and excel in academia and our professions, while at the same time wearing our power suit and heels!