Spotlight on Julie Berkowitz
Julie Berkowitz, of the Law Office of Julie Berkowitz, St. Louis, is our spotlighted attorney more experienced in Elder Law in this issue. Julie was born in Columbus, OH, and she graduated from Central High School, in Omaha, NE, in 1982.
Julie spent time studying in England while in undergraduate and law school. She earned her BA degree in Philosophy in 1986 at the University of Nebraska, which included a year abroad at the University of Lancaster, England. She went to law school at Washington University, St. Louis, and received her J.D. Degree in 1989, which included a semester of study at Regent’s College in London.
After law school, Julie worked for the small firm of Kreuter & Gordon, PC, in St. Louis, from 1989 to 1994. From 1994 to 1997, she worked in the general counsel’s office for Anheuser-Busch, Inc., before starting her own practice in 1997.
Julie’s interest in Elder Law was based in part on her parent’s careers. Both were college professors. Her father taught social work, and her mother taught geriatric nursing. Julie also worked as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home for a brief time before attending law school. Her interest in Elder Law became apparent during her first year as an attorney. “At my first job for the small firm, I liked estate planning and working with older people,” said Julie.
“With Barbara Gilchrist, Martha Brown, Virginia Rice, and Stan Platke, I was one of the founding members of the Elder Law Committee of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL).” Julie said. “I learned about and joined the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys in 2000, took and passed the certified elder law attorney exam in 2002, and have been a certified Elder Law Attorney ever since.”
Julie met her husband, Ira, in 1995 at the St. Louis County Courthouse while each was advocating for different clients. They married in 1997. She has four step children—Aaron, Lizzie, Sarah, and Meredith Berkowitz—all of whom are now grown. She and Ira also have a son, Jeremy, now age 14.
Doing the “leg work” to organize, find, and assign chapter authors, Julie was the primary person responsible for The Missouri Bar Elder Law deskbook, which has gone through two editions. With fellow Elder Law attorney, Christine Alsop, she co-taught an Elder Law course as an adjunct professor at St. Louis University School of Law in the fall of 2012.
“I like Elder Law as a practice area because of the good feelings I get when I am helping people. Our clients are usually stressed out because of the often catastrophic changes they face when someone needs to be in a nursing home or when they are confronting their frailty and mortality. “It is personally satisfying to be able to meet the needs for direction of those formerly in control of their lives,” Julie said.
“I also enjoy the camaraderie of interacting with other Elder Law attorneys,” said Julie. “I try to mentor attorneys new to the field with my knowledge and experience. I have appreciated that others have done that for me and it is time to give back. I have trained a legal assistant who is now very helpful and am training a new associate attorney.”
As a younger baby-boomer Julie said that she is busy with her son and her mother. She chauffeurs her son to his activities—school, hockey and lacrosse games and practices. Her mother is age 83 and recently moved to St. Louis to be nearer to her family. “My mom, even at 83, is a tremendous help to me. Sometimes, she will serve as a witness when I do out-of-office document execution,” said Julie.
Julie does not have much time for hobbies. For occasional respites from work, however, she and her husband enjoy the outdoors. “We love to go hiking up in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin during our summers. During the winter, we spend time on a warm-water beach. We also enjoy biking,” Julie said. “For example last year, we rode the KATY Trail from St. Louis to Jefferson City, staying at bed and breakfast establishments along the way for the three day trip.”
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