For nearly two decades Julie Savage has been one of Northern Virginia's - and certainly Fauquier County's - leading matrimonial attorneys. Indeed, now in her early 50s, Savage is a respected fixture of the law bar of Fauquier and surrounding counties, the once-quiet horse country 50 miles west of Washington and part of the area's breathtaking growth. Her success, and her great variety of clients over the years, reflects change all around: She joined small, tradition-minded Walker Jones (its Federal-style house-turned-office, across from the county courthouse, once took in Civil War wounded) in 1986, back when the region's handful of female lawyers didn't dare wear pantsuits to court. Yet without vanity or fanfare, Savage diligently earned her place both in the profession and at her firm; she was named its first woman partner in 1991. Today she is a substitute judge for the 20th Judicial Circuit. She handles the cases of Middleburg millionaires and Warrenton newcomers alike. It's all the more remarkable given that Savage -- a native of upstate of New York who came south out of law school "looking for a job" - arrived in her mid 20s with no privileged background or connections.
Growing up, the daughter of a school superintendent, Savage was "a voracious reader - I mean, grown-ups had to be careful what they left lying around. I read everything." Her parents conferred a deliberate and constructive approach - "they prepared me well for college, and for life." (She, along with her four siblings, lost her parents while a young adult; she gained an independence and resourcefulness early on.) She married Virginia native Thomas Savage, today a respected family lawyer in Fredericksburg.
Initially she joined a Fauquier County country lawyer in practice, where she concentrated on divorce matters; less than two years later she hopped to Walker Jones, where she has built her career. The firm, with ten lawyers (three in family law), has a broad presence, which includes commercial litigation, and transactional and estate practices. "Most of us here at Walker Jones are lifers," she says.
Savage has a careful, poised manner, which peers say conceals her upstate stoutness and strength; with clients she's always empathetic but generally not sentimental. "Everyone can cry for a little while," she says. "Then we face up to things." Today, with senior partners recently retired, Savage has emerged as one of the key leaders of a highly respected firm.
She and her husband share the profession ("We get each others' jokes"), and they have two children; their daughter attends Shenandoah University and their son attends Highland School in Warrenton. They live in the southeastern part of Fauquier County.