Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Wynne Allison.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I think of my life more like a journey, than a story. Especially, because I never consciously planned to get where I am today. It’s hard for me to believe that I have been practicing law for 30 years, I have had my own predominately female firm for 13 years – which is growing thanks to hard work, personal service, good karma and the wonderful people who are part of the firm’s team (shout out to my new partner, Anelia Shaheed). To me, the most important part of my story, and the only reason I am answering questions about a successful, meaningful career, is because I had a moment of clarity at the age of 23. I felt like a fraud and my life was unmanageable back then, which led me to ask for help to overcome my substance abuse addiction (I recently celebrated 35 years of sobriety). While this may not seem to directly impact my career as a lawyer, the principles I had to embrace to learn how to get sober, and to stay sober have fostered my success as a lawyer. In other words, running my business and practicing law with spiritual principals in mind– yes, even while vigorously advocating for my clients – has provided me with a loyal client base and professional achievements.
Why did I leave the “security” (steady pay check and annual bonuses) provided at a mid-size firm to open my own practice? I was finally able to recognize the value of my own worth: I was a good lawyer who got good results and finally believed that I deserved to be compensated fairly. I also realized that I wanted to work among others who had professional and personal values similar to mine. There were two local firms that matched my criteria, and both were very open to me coming on board. However, for reasons that had nothing to do with me, neither worked out. A good friend and colleague then offhandedly suggested that I open my own firm because I was one of the best net-workers he had ever met, but he then turned serious and said he was concerned that I would not be able to stick to a business plan. I looked at him and jokingly said, “what business plan?” As I laughed, I knew in my heart that I had to try my own firm.
I have yet to have a formal business plan. Not that it isn’t a good idea, but my career has demonstrated that there are other important tools to follow for success. It took a leap of faith and daily prosperity affirmations to go out on my own: I was one of the first female lawyers in my specialty to have her own firm and I candidly did not know if I could get enough business to continue to be the primary support for my family, which I was at the time. That is where courage (taking action despite the fear) and simply being willing to show up with an open mind came into play.
My first office was in the upstairs bedroom in the family house. Within three weeks, as a result of a “random encounter” on an airplane and having the opportunity to speak with a friend I got sober with and had not seen in five years, I was offered office space in Aventura after successfully pitching to a new corporate client. This client is still a client of my firm.
Has it been a smooth road?
No, it has not always been a smooth road, but I have learned that I am resilient. I am going to talk a lot about my personal battle and recovery from addiction, because, as you will see, it is truly what has shaped my experience as a lawyer and my ability to be happy practicing law. Statistics indicate that as many as one in five lawyers is a problem drinker – twice the national rate and that lawyers suffer from a high rate of anxiety and depression. Yet, because I am a sober lawyer, I am optimistic and I have formed meaningful relationships in my profession, advocated for clients to the best of my ability, done the right thing and have been rewarded. I have lost positions I am advocating for, but am able to persevere – because of the values learned in my struggles within addiction. My first struggle was to surrender to the fact that I suffered from the disease of addiction and I could not recover on my own: I had to learn a new way to live or I would die. Once I was sold on the idea that I needed help, I passionately embraced recovery. I try to be an example for others that one can be a happy and productive member of society without chemical aids. This lesson “to thy own self be true” translates to my career, because I see that I have struggled in my business and personal life when I fail to live authentically (with regards to speaking my truth and with whom I surround myself) and when I over commit because I forget no is a full sentence – haha.
I am passionate about so many things that I can forget that I need to take care of myself first before I can help others. This year, a big struggle in my professional life was to accept that life is not fair. I defended a client impacted by Hurricane Irma with two amazing lawyers, and nationally recognized experts in their fields, but the outcome at the trial level was not consistent with my notion of fairness based on the science and law. This was a disheartening experience and a huge disappointment to overcome even though I knew the cards were stacked against us. But I have learned to continue on, to fight for the next cause and to trust that down the road there will be victories if I keep doing the next right thing. Bottom line: Being actively involved in recovery keeps me grateful during challenging times- I know that there is always a lesson to be learned. Being actively involved in recovery keeps me humble so that I do not take my staff and clients for granted. I am reminded that we all need a sense of community and each other. The practice of law is stressful, and I think the profession is finally recognizing that isolation and “fighting” just to be right and without compromise, serves neither lawyers nor their clients.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
My firm primarily represents doctors, hospitals and behavioral health and substance abuse treatment providers. We litigate, assist with licensing, compliance, risk management, and handle transactions for these clients. We also perform some due diligence within the addiction acquisition space. I think what sets us apart is our level of personal service and that we care about our clients and are passionate about what we do. Our firm has also had the privilege to get involved with lobbying on behalf of the substance abuse treatment industry on the state and national level. We formed a nonprofit, The Association for Clear and Compassionate Governance of Substance Abuse and Treatment and donate our time to this organization. Lobbying and politics are a challenging space for me to try and maintain my optimism. Yet, I keep showing up and keep trying to educate others in this area and to promote insurance reimbursement for services that promote recovery. Three years ago, I was asked to break my anonymity before the Florida Senate because “I don’t look like a drug addict.” I agreed to because but for my parents having the financial ability to pay for my two months of residential treatment and one month in a structured all-female halfway house, I do not think I would be alive today. The insurance industry needs to acknowledge that in order to increase the chances for individual recovery in the midst of this nation’s opioid crisis, supervised housing is a must and should be paid for as part of standard treatment for addiction.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’ve had mentors and supporters and clients who have played a big role in my success. If you haven’t gotten my message yet, I repeat, I think we all need mentors, support and community. My family, my small inner circle of friends, my sober sisters, and brothers, several colleagues, and clients, all deserve credit for helping me learn life’s lessons and to acquire the skills I needed to live life on life ‘s terms (i.e. awareness and humor) and to be a success professionally. I am deliberately not naming names but will mention my mentors who have passed: my father, Dr. Joseph Allison who is responsible for my love of medicine and was a role model for helping others and my first and longtime spiritual guide, Sandy Taubin, who taught me to believe in a power greater than myself.
- Address: Julie W. Allison, P.A.
4601 Sheridan Street, Suite 213
Hollywood, FL 33021
- Phone: 305 428-3093 Fax: 305-397-2211 C:305-335-4015
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.allisonlaw.net