Valerie Butera Interviewed on Practicing as an OSHA Attorney

Law Crossing

Valerie Butera, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was featured in Law Crossing, in “Valerie N. Butera, Labor and Employment Partner at Epstein Becker Green.”

Following is an excerpt:

1. Tell us about your most memorable law school experience.

“I had the most amazing civil procedure professor - Maxwell Chibundu - and I had the class for the entire first year of law school. Professor Chibundu called on the same people over and over again, including me, mercilessly. And if you did not know what he was looking for in responding to his questions, he would just let you sit there in humiliating silence. I spent hours preparing for his class, but still I found myself in that humiliating silence several times. I finally figured out that he was looking for truly comprehensive answers - you needed to think about more than just the case or the application of the rules - you needed to be prepared to talk about policy issues, practical ramifications of the cases and the like. Basically, you had to think like a practicing lawyer, which is rarely taught in law school. So I prepared for the next class with that in mind. The next time he called on me I was ready - I was SO ready. I cannot even remember what the case or question was about, but he actually started smiling when I was giving all of my answers - I'd not seen that before - and my classmates applauded when I finished answering his litany of tough questions! It was amazing. And I never stopped preparing for class that way, but he never randomly called on me again - I didn't have to say a thing the entire second semester if I didn't want to. It seemed as though I had finally proven that I got it and he was content not to bother me anymore. As tough as that was, I still look back on the experience, and Professor Chibundu, very fondly. And I REALLY know my civil procedure!"

2. Why did you decide to become an attorney?

“Like many other attorneys I know, I thought I was going to become a physician, but quickly learned that pre-med and I were not a good fit. When I graduated college I was still unsure of what path to take so I worked in marketing for a few years while I tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Ultimately I decided on law for practical reasons - the qualities that one needs to become a good attorney were things that came easily to me (in complete contrast to those required of a doctor!). I was not sure whether I would even like law school or being an attorney, but quickly after I started law school, a close friend remarked that it seemed as though I had found my calling - and I truly feel that I did. I freakishly loved law school and truly enjoy my career.”