Career Corner: Law grad says law education heals community
JaDawnya Butler By Francie Weinberg
JaDawnya C. Butler (JD 04) loves people. From her affinity for public speaking to her knack for giving legal advice to friends and family, her job as chief senior assistant district attorney in Atlanta is a perfect fit.
Butler currently serves as the Zone 4 community prosecutor in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. In addition to prosecuting cases, she attends weekly community and police precinct meetings and works as a liaison between prosecution and the people of Fulton County. She leads a reading program for third graders where attorneys and judges read to and mentor a student on their lunch breaks.
She also teaches fifth graders weekly on the criminal justice system and mock trial and often speaks at local high schools on the criminal justice system. Butler also serves as a guest legal analyst on the live and nationally syndicated show, In Session.
Butler earned her undergraduate degree from Spelman College and immediately after graduating from UF Law, she started her own boutique practice, The Butler Law Group, LLC, where she served the greater Atlanta community for five years. She then joined the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Fulton County is the busiest trial court of general jurisdiction in the state and offers her the intense and exciting environment she always wanted. Serving in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office also gives her the learning opportunities and experience she will need for her ultimate goal of becoming a Fulton County Superior Court Judge.
Her time at UF Law prepared her for a world of opportunities, she says. She competed successfully with both moot court and trial team, and uses the skills she learned here in her everyday practice.
Butler recommends that students garner as much legal experience as possible through internships and externships. She also suggests that students become familiar with and active in local bar associations.
“Always choose experience and passion over pay. Be willing to create your own experience if necessary and don’t be afraid. It all works out in the end,” Butler advises.
But, most importantly, she suggests students focus on their grades in order to set them apart to potential employers.
“Law school is a very challenging process,” she said. “Put yourself all the way in, get the best that you can out of it and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.”
Butler takes her own advice every day. Though she describes herself as ambitious to a fault, her hard work, motivation and outgoing nature have paid off.
She is the recipient of the University of Florida Levin College of Law Black Law Student Association’s 2006 Outstanding Alumni award and a 2008 graduate of The State Bar of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Division’s Leadership Academy. In 2012, she was named one of Atlanta’s “Top 100 Black Women of Influence” by The Atlanta Business League. She was also chosen as a member of LEAD Atlanta’s 2013 Class and was featured as the cover story for The Daily Report’s annual “On the Rise” edition. She was awarded the 2012 Special Commendation Award by the African Leadership Magazine and named “Top 100 Law Leaders” in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, 2012. In 2012, she served as president of The Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys- a statewide, 31 year-old organization boasting nearly 1,000 members.
In her limited free time, Butler loves to cook and entertain for family and friends. Sharing stories and advice is one of her most important passions.
“My mentor taught me very early on about the three original professions: doctors, lawyers and pastors. Doctors were called to heal the body and pastors were called to heal the soul but lawyers were called to heal the community. I think there’s something so special about being able to use your gift to provide healing through education and vindication, and that’s a gift that I have the pleasure of giving on a daily basis.”