Career takes Ripley native on new adventure

By Lena Mitchell | NEMS Daily Journal

RIPLEY – Julie Howell had a multifaceted life in Ripley, but the young attorney this month branched out to explore a new career opportunity in Las Vegas, Nev.
The 26-year-old isn’t off to seek fame and fortune in Las Vegas’ most well-known industry – gaming – but to broaden her experience in the law.
“I’m taking another federal clerkship with a new judge there,” Howell said. “I found the job through a national search, and he interviewed me over the phone. I’m excited, but a little nervous because I’m moving there sight unseen.”
Howell isn’t nervous about the job, though.
She loved the one-year clerkship she completed in July with Chief Judge Michael Mills of the United States District Court in Oxford and is eager for more experience working in the federal system.
“During law school I felt the judiciary was one of the most important aspects of the judicial system,” she said. “They are required to make the right decision on the law, regardless of how they feel about the issue.”
The University of Mississippi bachelor’s and law school graduate said she was fortunate to observe Third District Circuit Judge Robert “Bobby” Elliott as a role model and mentor, first as a fellow member of Ripley Presbyterian Church and then as an intern with him during law school.
“Interning with him was a great experience and he was a big influence, I saw so many different types of things,” Howell said. “Then I had such a great time over the past year with Judge Mills, I knew I was on the right track for what I wanted to do in my career. He helped shape how I approach cases and view issues.”
As a law clerk, Howell said the job basically involves accepting and reviewing motions from attorneys, doing legal research, formulating conclusions and discussing those with the judge, drafting opinions, conferencing with attorneys for jury instructions before they go to the judge, and other duties.
Her experience hasn’t been limited to only federal court, however. She also worked for a civil defense firm and the U.S. prosecutor’s office.
The months since leaving the internship with Mills have not been idle ones, either.
Howell spent several weeks in a Ripley High School classroom as a substitute teacher, where she reconnected with some of the same teachers who taught her.
As the only child of a dentist, Dr. Norris Howell, and Lynne Howell, a teacher of mathematics and accounting at Northeast Mississippi Community College, she has maintained close connections with her home town.
Before setting off on her new venture, Howell also was able to enjoy participating in a local theatrical production, an important part of her life since childhood.
She completed a series of performances with the Dixie Theatre, playing the role of Sweet Sue in last month’s production of “Sugar,” a musical stage version of the Marilyn Monroe movie “Some Like It Hot.”
“I think I was in my first play when I was 4 years old,” a smiling Howell said. “I grew up singing and love being on a stage. Maybe that’s why I definitely want to litigate, too, using some of the same elements in a courtroom.”
She’ll be away from her theater pastime and another favorite as well – Ole Miss basketball.
“I’ll be looking at the schedule to plan my visits home,” Howell said. “It’s definitely tough leaving, but I’m sure I want to return to north Mississippi after this experience.”
lena.mitchell@journalinc.com