McKusick Fellow

Julia MacDonaldBackground

Class of 2020

Hometown: Tempe, AZ

Undergrad: Bowdoin College

Major: History

What did you do prior to coming to the University of Maine School of Law?

I worked at both a brewery and a horse farm in Bar Harbor, Maine for two summers. After leaving paradise to join the real world, I worked as a paralegal at a small litigation firm here in Portland for three years.

Maine Law

Why did you choose to attend the University of Maine School of Law?

I chose Maine Law because it hit all the marks—small, close-knit, and well-respected among Maine lawyers, judges, and employers. I also did my undergrad at a small school in Maine and knew what a special educational experience that could be.

What has been most helpful to you in making the adjustment to the life of a Maine Law student?

Working as a paralegal and getting to experience trial work prior to law school was extremely helpful. It’s great to have some experience with how the legal process works and how lawyers write, think, and behave prior to starting law school.

As a 1L, how would you describe your experience at Maine Law?

Law school is a lot of work, and it requires focus, flexibility, and dedication. However, it’s also a lot of fun! Your main job 1L year is to hang out in a room full of smart and often hilarious people and learn interesting information from a series of brilliant and engaging professors. If you approach it with the right mindset you can have an absolute blast!

What is one thing that has surprised you about Maine Law?

The quality of the faculty and their dedication to their students’ successes. The professors go out of their way to help students succeed both academically and professionally. Plus, they are great people in real life. I haven’t heard of any other law school where students and professors do karaoke or have bonfires together!

What are you hoping to do after graduation, and how is Maine Law helping you to facilitate that goal?

My main goal is to do trial work, particularly criminal defense. Maine Law is lucky to have Thea Johnson, a former public defender, teaching Criminal Law. Professor Johnson connected me with the Federal Defenders of New York, where she used to work, and through that connection I was able to land a summer internship. I gained priceless experience working on criminal cases in the Southern District of New York, and received trial training from some of the best trial lawyers in the business — all thanks to a Maine Law professor!


Are you involved in extracurricular activities, either on or off campus? What are they?

I am a Teaching Fellow for Torts and Property, a staff member of the Maine Law Review, and a co-chair of the Multicultural Law Society. Outside of school, I volunteer at Riding to the Top, a non-profit therapeutic horseback riding program for children with disabilities.

When you are not at school, how do you like to spend your time?

I love getting outside and going to the beach, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, kayaking, and swimming. I’m also an avid knitter, and like any good Portlander I love exploring our amazing restaurant scene.


What do you like best about Portland?

I love that I can live a very urban lifestyle. I walk everywhere, eat at world-class restaurants, drink great beer, and am surrounded by great art and music. I can also be so close to some true wilderness. It’s normal here to spend Saturday hiking deep in the woods and Sunday catching a concert downtown.

Portland has a reputation for its vast array of food options. Do you have any favorite restaurants or grocery stores?

There are so many great ones! For special occasions I think Fore Street is one of the best restaurants in the world, and for a more casual weeknight I’m a huge fan of Pai Men Miyake. I also go to Tandem Coffee + Bakery way more often than I should admit.


For someone who is considering attending Maine Law, how would you describe the student community here?

Almost everyone here is rooting for their classmates to succeed. Some of my favorite law school moments have been when my classmates have crushed an oral argument or given a great answer to a cold call. Most people are driven and competitive (as future lawyers should be!), but people here use that drive to push themselves forward, not to tear others down.