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Katherine Butler Partner Butler & Harris, Houston Margaret Harris Partner Butler & Harris, Houston Margaret Harris and Katherine Butler were warned that practicing law together could hurt the friendship that began when they attended the University of Houston Law Center. Instead, they became better friends and developed a successful employment law practice that has scored impressive wins in sexual harassment and disability cases. “I went to law school to do this type of work,” Harris says. “I worked for three years between college and law school and got interested in employment issues.” Her interest was sparked when she was appointed the women’s program manager for her office, where she worked as a management auditor in the late 1970s. The office’s diversity program opened her eyes to the hidden stereotypes in society, she says. Butler also had a previous career, as a legislative aide for a state representative, before getting into law. After graduating in 1981, both women each had a judicial clerkship and worked with other firms before hanging out their shingle together in 1988. Much of their work takes place outside of a courtroom. In court, they count among their successes two victories before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. They prevailed against the Houston Police Department in Williamson v. City of Houston and Sharp v. City of Houston, both sexual harassment cases. “They’ve [police officials] changed their policies, I think, because of those cases,” Butler says. “They weren’t real sensitive to women before.” Harris, 48, and Butler, 47, also do a significant amount of amicus writing as a way to further the law and they speak at numerous seminars. They’re also involved with the National Employment Lawyers Association. “There’s great satisfaction in helping people,” Harris says. “Many of our clients are lower income and have few places to turn.”

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