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2012-05-31 02:42:20 PM
Tamika Butler, 27, staff attorney
Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center
Not long after Butler joined the Legal Aid Society as an extern focusing on gender equity and LGBT rights issues, she presented the agency with a bold plan: to establish a clinic that would provide legal services in two of San Francisco's poorest African-American neighborhoods the Western Addition and Bayview-Hunters Point. The clinics she founded as a Skadden fellow will continue even as Butler undertakes a new project. She was named the first John and Terry Levin fellow for Fair Play for Girls in Sports a project to secure Title IX equality for girls from low-income families who want to play high school sports. Butler also speaks at conferences and law schools on employment issues affecting military families (she was an Air Force brat), diversity and employment discrimination. And she currently serves on the boards of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Center for Young Women's Development.
Word that best describes you?
Toughest moment in law school or as a lawyer?
Failing the bar on my first attempt while dealing with a number of family and personal misfortunes. It was a particularly dark and tough time in my life and it took a lot of tenacity and perseverance to refocus and recommit myself to studying and taking the bar a second time, which I did and passed.
Most interesting place you've traveled?
Okinawa, Japan. The thing that made it the most interesting is that I lived there with my Air Force father and family for seven years. Traveling somewhere is always exciting, but actually growing up in another country and really becoming part of the culture was a unique experience that I'm unbelievably privileged and lucky to have had.
Most unusual hobby?
I don't think it was unusual, but I used to have a BMX bike and race and do tricks on ramps. Until I broke my wrist. That was the end of that hobby.
A lawyer you admire?
Matlock. He made me want to be a lawyer. He was so calm and cool. He rocked one suit all the time. He didn't iron it or anything. It wasn't how he looked or what he wore. People underestimated him because of that. I didn't grow up seeing a lot of black, female, queer attorneys on TV. For that matter, I still don't see a lot of them on TV or around the legal world. So Matlock was an outsider. Someone who was different. In this weird way I totally identified with the old white guy. He was smart, funny, clever and could wrap up any case in an hour. Who wouldn't want to be that guy? In a black, female, queer form.