Frank Julian has known for a long time that he wanted to earn his living in the courtroom as a trial attorney. However, he did not take the normal path from school towards the leadership of a major law firm. Before law school, Frank followed another calling by serving his country in the United States Navy. In making your choice of a personal injury law firm, we think it is important to know the lawyer and his or her history.
Frank comes from a Navy family. Frank’s father (Frank Sr.) was a naval officer who served for over 35 years commanding several ships and retiring as a Captain. In fact, Frank was born while his father was serving in Vietnam as the Commanding Officer of the USS ASHEVILLE (PG-84). While growing up, Frank’s family lived all over the country, wherever his father’s duty assignments took them. Frank’s mother is a nurse with a specialty in geriatric care. Frank’s mother was the Director of Nursing at several nursing homes over the course of her career.
As early as the eighth grade, Frank knew that he wanted to be a lawyer. That year, his social studies class was studying World War II and the difficult decision to use nuclear weapons to end the war. The class was given the difficult assignment of a “war crimes” trial. Harry Truman stood accused of war crimes for his decision to use the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Surprisingly, Truman had been consistently found guilty in the prior years of mock trials. Frank was given the assignment of lead counsel defending Truman. This was the early eighties, the height of the cold war and the anti-nuclear movement. The five day trial was headline news throughout New England. In the end, Harry Truman was resoundingly acquitted by the jury. Frank Julian had won his first trial and had found a vocation. Frank knew that one day he wanted to be in the courtroom, fighting against the odds.
After high school, Frank took a Naval ROTC scholarship at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. At Villanova, Frank majored in Political Science with a concentration in Arab & Islamic Studies. Instead of immediately going to graduate school or law school like most of his classmates, Frank joined the United States Navy. It turned out that Arabic studies would serve him well because soon after graduation Frank found himself in the Middle East in support of Operation Desert Storm. Frank was assigned to the USS KALAMAZOO (AOR-6) as part of the John F. Kennedy Battle Group and later the George Washington Battle Group.
The KALAMAZOO was an extremely large ship (40,000 tons, 659 feet long, 96 foot beam, 32,000 shaft horsepower) that was designed for the replenishment at sea of a Navy battle group. Replenishment operations often required that the KALAMAZOO be operated within yards of an aircraft carrier, sometimes with another large ship on the other side and
often in high seas.
Even as a 22-year-old ensign, Frank reveled in this type of high-stakes, high pressure assignment. He was quickly qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer. He also enjoyed working with the giant steam boilers that drove the ship. Although now made almost extinct by high-tech gas turbine propulsion, operating the ship’s complex steam system appealed to Frank. Although not required by his assignment, he obtained the qualification of Engineering Officer of the Watch.
While in the pressure-cooker environment of the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm, Frank qualified as one of the ship’s two Tactical Action Officers. In that role, Frank was charged with the operation of the ship’s multiple radars, electronic warfare equipment, and the ship’s missile system. Had the ship been attacked, it would have been his responsibility to defend the 500 person crew.
After serving on the KALAMAZOO, Frank was honored by being one of a select few officers chosen to serve on the pre-commissioning crew of the USS STETHEM (DDG-63). STETHEM is a special ship. It was named for Robert Dean Stethem, a United States Naval Petty Officer who was brutally murdered by terrorists in 1985. In June of 1985, Robert Stethem was on his way home after having completed an overseas assignment for the Navy. As he flew home on TWA Flight 847, Shi’ite terrorists took over the plane. After they discovered that Robert was an American and in the U.S. Navy, he was singled out and then brutally beaten and tortured. Despite being beaten for several hours, Robert Stethem did not waiver or yield. The cowardly terrorists eventually became so enraged that they killed him and threw his body onto the tarmac of the airport in Beirut, Lebanon. Robert Stethem was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for heroism and bravery. The Navy would later honor Robert Stethem by naming its newest and most technologically advanced warships in his honor.
Frank joined the crew of the STETHEM while it was still being built in the shipyard at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. After the shipyard, the ship traveled through the Panama Canal and then up to its home port of San Diego California. STETHEM was commissioned in California with most of the members of the Stethem family in attendance. During the commissioning ceremony, then LT. Julian had the honor of being the ship’s first Officer of the Deck. After commissioning, STETHEM took part in several shakedown cruises and an extensive missile testing program at the Pacific Missile Test Range off the coast of Hawaii.
At the end of his tour on STETHEM, Frank had a tough decision to make. He had to choose between a naval career and his long-held desire to become a trial lawyer. Having been around the world and having done everything he wanted to in the Navy, Frank decided to leave the Navy and go to law school. During his time in the Navy, Frank received several commendations and medals. Awards and Commendations included the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal, the Battle ‘E” Award, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, and the Sea Service Ribbon. After looking at law schools around the country, Frank decided that the University of Notre Dame was the best fit for him. He packed up a truck and drove from San Diego to South Bend, Indiana.
Forming the Sweeney Julian Team
Fresh out of law school, Frank went to work both on his own and with other personal injury lawyers. In 2000, he was approached by Charles Sweeney with an idea of opening a new branch of his personal injury law firm in South Bend. Charlie had practiced in South Bend for 30+ years, but at the time only had an office in Fort Wayne. The South Bend office of Sweeney Law Firm opened in 2001 with Frank Julian and Charles Sweeney working together on their client’s behalf.
In 2005, Charles Sweeney decided to retire and become “of counsel” to the law firm. An attorney who is “of counsel” acts as an advisor and is available for consultation and assistance whenever needed. Frank Julian took over the practice, the name of which changed from Sweeney Law Firm to Sweeney Julian PC.
At its core, Sweeney Julian’s role is to help our community both through dedicated legal work and through community service. Helping our fellow man is always profitable, both personally and for the bottom line. We regularly use our firms considerable resources to help out local charities and people in need. Frank Julian is also on the Board of Directors of the Granger Rotary Club.
Early in his career, Frank was elected to the Board of Directors of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, a highly coveted honor. Through the ITLA, Frank promotes legislation to protect the rights of Hoosiers. In 2005, Frank was nominated as the Indiana Trial Lawyer of the Year. In 2019 Frank was elected President of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, having served on that organization's Board of Directors and Executive Committee for over ten years.
A frequent participant on the faculty of continuing legal education seminars, Frank has given many lectures on a variety of subjects. Some of those subjects include The Use of Expert Testimony is Spine Injury Cases, Handling Residential Gas Explosions and Attorney Advertising in the Age of Insurance Company Propaganda. Frankis the President of the Annual Litigation Seminar for Northern Indiana. Topics of the seminar have included: Automobile Litigation, Topics in Litigation and Damages in Automobile Litigation. Frank recently was Chair of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association Lifetime Achievement Seminar and several other seminars dealing with cutting edge issues in litigation. He has served as the Chair of the Annual Institute, one of the largest and most prestigious continuing legal education events in Indiana.