Eugene Butler grew up in Camilla, a town in South Georgia with a population of less than 6,000 people. Most residents work in agriculture or manufacturing, and he was on track to graduate from high school with a health care concentration. However, job shadowing in hospitals and nursing homes made him want to have a greater impact. He recognized that good laws are as just as impactful for quality of life as health care. So, he majored in political science at Georgia State and chose to stay for law school.
Butler says that he had the courage to pursue his passion, but many young people from his hometown do not. This is why he wants to use the law to create more opportunities for youth to explore different career paths and find their passions. He currently serves as the 2019-2020 president of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA). In between classes and student organizational meetings, he shared why he chose to go TheStateWay.
What area of the law most interests you?
I am interested in real estate law because the fast pace of the practice compliments my personality. You have the transactional side and litigation, so there are always interesting tasks that can be done. I’m really into commercial real estate and real estate development. Additionally, I can use that knowledge and formed connections to build a community center as a form of child advocacy.
Where does your interest in youth and child advocacy come from?
My junior year in high school, I founded a philanthropy program, The L.A.E. Over. It originated because I’m from an area of rural Georgia with a low socioeconomic status, and there isn’t a lot of exposure. I was fortunate to be one of the few who had parents who went to college, but most of my friends didn’t have that. I reached out to some successful young alumni and asked them to come back to speak to students, and they did. Since then, I’ve gone back every semester. One of my favorite quotes [from Frederick Douglass] is “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
You’re in your last year of law school. Tell me about something you’ve learned in class that has been perspective-shifting for you?
I’m taking Race, Ethnicity and the Law taught by professor Saito this semester. We started the class discussing, ‘What is Race?” and delving into the construction of whiteness. From there, we have had intelligent and thoughtful conversations about the cultural history of African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans and Japanese Americans. This has taught me that so many of us live in this box and we put our focus on our own experiences. We don’t look at the commonalities in what we’ve all been through in this country, and how we’re still trying to shape it. It has helped me have a more complete view of the world I am about to step into as a professional and discover how I can help change it.
Talk to me about your involvement with BLSA.
BLSA was the first organization to reach out to me when I was admitted to the College of Law. Everyone has read the stats that less than 5 percent of attorneys are black. Beside gender, race is one of the first identities that determines how you are in the world. It’s nice to have a community reach out you and invite you to a professor’s home to create a familial atmosphere.
Now that I am president, my focus is continuing the legacy, so we’ll continue to do a mock exam for 1Ls and bar readiness programs for our upperclassmen. We’re also implementing a 5k this year to promote mental health awareness as well as raising money for Bar Bridge Scholarships to alleviate financial stress for students while they study.
What would you tell prospective students about choosing a law school?
First, before you even pick a law school, make sure law school is for you. Next, it is important to make a list of importance for yourself. For me, I wanted diversity, cost effectiveness, high bar passage rates and employment outlooks. I also considered where I might want to practice upon graduation. Georgia State Law met all of my desires and more. The care and attention that I receive from the faculty and staff is priceless.