My Chicago Law Moment: Julie Bradlow, ’88, Discovered the Human Stories behind Tax Cases

My Chicago Law Moment is a series highlighting the Law School ideas, experiences, and approaches that have impacted our students and alumni. Video produced by Will Anderson.

Julie Bradlow, ’88, sometimes jokes that she went into tax law for all the wrong reasons.

“I thought it was interesting!” she said with a laugh.

Bradlow, now a tax partner at Milazzo Webb Law, PLLC, in Charlotte, North Carolina, had planned to pursue corporate law. But in her third year of law school, she took her first tax course, “and I was hooked,” she said.

Tax law simply wasn’t what she’d thought it would be.

“Tax is not about numbers and money and accounting, although all those things come into play,” she said. “What tax is really about is … human nature and the extent to which people and companies will go to minimize their obligations. And to me every tax case is fascinating because it's a story of something somebody tried: Did it work? Did it not work? Each one is kind of its own little soap opera. So I guess it was thanks to the Law School … I discovered what I was really interested in.”

The interdisciplinary nature of her courses—including ones taught by professors from both the Law School and business school— gave her a firm grasp on the business concepts she’d encounter in her future career.

“For tax lawyers, it's important in many situations to understand the time value of money—the fact that a dollar 10 years from now is not worth the same as a dollar now,” she said. “Also, for example, in the capital asset pricing model, there's this term ‘beta’ that refers to the volatility of stocks. And I'd be working with people in corporate treasury who would say, 'Well, gee, such and such was a good investment for us because its beta was close to one.' If a stock's beta is close to one, that means that it moves with the market—it isn't more volatile than the market and isn't less volatile than the market. And if it weren't for that finance course I probably would have had to run and go look that up somewhere.”

The Law School’s commitment to interdisciplinary education is one of its greatest strengths, Bradlow said. “[It prepares] graduates to actually use their legal skills to help people and help companies solve their business problems.”