Julie Downs “J.D.” Payne
Julie Downs “J.D.” Payne focuses her practice on all 360 degrees of estate planning. This includes planning for both the individual and the assets that comprise their estates as each continues to change and grow.
From facilitating acquisitions of real property to advising start-ups to providing general business advice, her goal is to assist clients in building and passing their wealth in the most advantageous way possible. Julie is direct, practical, and non-traditional.
At age 19, Julie became the first graduate of the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University, with a bachelor’s degree in political science and pre-law. Rather than heading to law school as her parents had hoped, she auditioned for a country band instead, and toured North America as a backup singer before relocating to Chicago to work as a staff composer for a commercial jingle house.
Even now with 20/20 hindsight, Julie credits her success in music and in law to her creative spirit. She began attending the Nashville School of Law two weeks after her youngest child was born. While a student working days and going to school nights, Julie obtained a limited law license to practice under supervising attorneys in order to gain hands-on experience helping clients while working her way to achieving her juris doctor degree.
During her time in law school, she clerked for the Honorable Chancellor Anne C. Martin of Davidson County, and, thereafter, worked full time under her mentor Harlan Dodson at Dodson Parker Behm and Capparella, P.C. Julie earned the highest overall grade point average in her graduating class. For this accomplishment, she was recognized by the Nashville School of Law with the Founder’s Award and was inducted into the Honorable Society of Cooper’s Inn. Julie has also been honored for her commitment to pro bono service. For providing at least 50 hours of pro bono work as a law student, Julie received the Dean’s Certificate of Recognition and has been recognized by the Tennessee Supreme Court as a Law Student for Justice. In 2019, Julie was honored with the Judges Choice award for producing a video on the theme of “Why Pro Bono Matters,” designed to increase participation in pro bono work.
Julie is married with two children, and her husband is still a touring member of the music industry. She looks forward to Friday nights with her kids, when they enjoy movies, baking, and spending time with the family cat, Hank.