Natalie Butler (pictured), an associate at Hermes Sargent Bates in Dallas, is one of two American attorneys awarded the Pegasus Scholarship, which will enable her to travel to Great Britain to learn more about its legal systems.
“I’m really, really excited,” Butler says, noting that she leaves Feb. 8 to begin her six-week visit.
Butler, who joined Hermes Sargent in January 2010, says the firm is allowing her to take an unpaid leave to make the trip.
According to the American Inns of Court website, the AIC sponsors the exchange program, which also sends two young British barristers to Washington, D.C., each year to learn about the courts in this country while their American counterparts visit Great Britain.
“When I heard about this program, I said, ‘This has my name written all over it,’” Butler says.
Butler says she always had an interest in British history and culture and was an English major during her undergraduate studies at Baylor University. She received her J.D. cum laude from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in 2008.
As part of her application for the scholarship, she had to write a brief essay explaining her interest in the program, Butler says. She says she also had to obtain recommendations from other lawyers and jurists.
Justice Douglas Lang of the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas was among those who wrote a recommendation for Butler. Lang notes that he and Butler are both members of the William “Mac” Taylor Inn of Court.
“This is a really great opportunity for this person,” Lang says of the scholarship awarded to Butler.
As noted on the AIC website, Rachel Gallegos, a court administrative officer in Philadelphia, Penn., is the other American lawyer awarded a scholarship.
Butler says she will spend three weeks of her visit in the Hailsham Chambers in London, learning how the barristers there handle professional negligence cases. She says that in her practice she handles a lot of professional liability litigation, including legal malpractice cases, and is curious to learn how British barristers handle discovery issues.
As part of the program, she will visit Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Edinburgh, Scotland, to meet judges there and tour their courts, Butler says. She says the program also includes a training weekend in which she will have an opportunity to learn about British legal education and participate in an advocacy exercise on stalking law reform.
Butler says she hopes to gain advocacy skills and learn ways to strengthen her skills through the scholarship program. She says she will return home March 23.
— Mary Alice Robbins
Robbins is an Austin-based freelance writer and a former Texas Lawyer senior reporter.