Washington Lawyer - September 2016 - 25

Julie Verratti, Co-founder of Denizen's Brewing Co. FROM DRAFTING TO BREWING Brown isn't the only attorney who has transitioned from the federal government to the private sector. Julie Verratti, an attorney and senior policy advisor at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), cofounded Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring in 2014. Verratti and her co-owners, Emily Bruno and Jeff Ramirez, have turned their brewery into a neighborhood hangout with pub food in their taproom. It also has become a legal pacesetter, modernizing Maryland craft brewing laws to grow the craft brew industry there. In 2014 Verratti and her cofounders lobbied and drafted legislative language for changes in the state's law to allow for their business model, a full-scale production brewery with a taproom, to serve beer onsite without a restaurant. Since the law's approval, three more craft breweries have opened in Maryland. "My lobbying skills learned in terms of reading the law and figuring out how to fix things, specifically my work on the Affordable Care Act at the SBA, have translated well for me," says Verratti, who directs Denizens' business development and distribution sales. Verratti says Denizens' craft beers have grown in popularity, and they are available not only at the taproom but also at retail establishments throughout the region. "We opened two years ago and now we have 40 employees," Verratti says, "and we're just one company. The number of breweries in D.C. and Maryland is growing, and a lot more people are looking at this industry as something of a career, including lawyers." Looking back, Verratti has no regrets in making the jump from law. In fact, she considers herself lucky. She is one of the legions of law graduates who came out of law school in the depth of the industry's depression in 2010. Having interned at Dickstein Shapiro LLP in Washington, D.C., Verratti thought she would graduate and join the ranks of associates there like all the other interns. But then the recession happened and Big Law jobs disappeared for associates. "There were no jobs anywhere when I graduated from [The George Washington University Law School], and that's why I went for the presidential management fellowship program in the federal government," she recalls. "A lot of my colleagues graduated and were topnotch and smart and they couldn't find work. If I had ended up going the Big Law route, which I was on track to do, maybe I wouldn't have started this brewery. Looking back now, I'm extremely grateful about how I got here and how my life ended up." Sarah Kellogg is a regular contributor to Washington Lawyer. "My appreciation for the law has really developed since I left. I think the thing I respect the most is its procedure and creativity. You have to create a system that everyone understands and agrees to operate under." Lawyer Warren Brown, Owner, CakeLove in a Jar, and partner, DC Taste Buds Photos: Patrice Gilbert Photography * WASHINGTON LAWYER * SEPTEMBER 2016 25 http://www.dcbar.org/

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