Professor Butler’s commitment to public service began when he was the first student to work with the newly established John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic in 1993. After graduating from law school in 1995, he joined John Marshall as a clinic professor, then served as the Director of the Fair Housing Legal Clinic until 2006. When his students came to him asking to establish an organization that would fight for veteran benefits, Professor Butler listened, then took action to create the Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic (VLSC). Since its inception, the VLSC has taught over 70 students how to effectively advocate on behalf of veterans, has established a pro bono network to help assist veterans, and has responded to many requests for assistance from veterans and their families. Professor Butler currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of the VLSC.
As part of his work at John Marshall, Professor Butler has assisted attorneys in preparing amicus briefs filed in the United States Supreme Court and various appellate courts, and he has edited and authored leading manuals on veterans and the law. Those who work closely with him have said that “Joe is approachable, thoughtful and deliberately concerned to look at issues broadly.” Professor Butler’s passion for justice and equality and for inspiring those qualities in his students makes him a most worthy recipient for this year’s Schrager Award.