The Honorable Kathleen Butz, Class of 1981
Justice Kathleen Butz was appointed to California's Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District by Governor Gray Davis and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments on October 15, 2003. Before going to law school, Justice Butz earned her bachelor's degree in International Relations from UC Davis.
What did you do before coming to King Hall?
Before law school, I worked as a travel consultant. I also worked at UC Davis as an assistant writer/principal clerk in the Dean's Office of the College of Engineering and as an administrative assistant in the Oral History Office, Department of Special Collections at the UC Davis main library.
How did you arrive at being an Associate Justice for California's Third District Court of Appeal?
My career path was heavily influenced by parenthood and my decision to apply to law school. I was a single parent during my law school years, so I juggled the responsibilities of having a young child along with finding an attorney position flexible enough to allow me to volunteer in my son's classrooms and be present for his extracurricular activities. After law school, I moved to Nevada City, California, and worked for a small civil law firm where all the partners and associates had families. I became a partner in 1986. After 13 years in private practice, I was encouraged to run for election to the Nevada County Superior Court. There were ten candidates for the one vacancy in 1996. I came in first in the primary but did not garner the 50% +1 vote that's needed to win the election outright, so I faced a run-off in November of that year. Fortunately, I won the election and was re-elected in 2002. In early 2003, I applied for the vacancy created at the Third Appellate District when President Bush nominated Justice Consuelo Callahan to the Ninth Circuit and she was confirmed by the Senate
What do you enjoy about your current work?
I enjoy my ten colleagues and the exceptional staff at the Court of Appeal. While the work itself can be fairly isolating, it is a wonderful work environment, and the variety of cases from the 23 trial courts in our jurisdiction makes the work very challenging. I am especially rewarded by some of the novel issues that arise in the Third Appellate District as a result of the presence of the State Capitol within our jurisdiction.
What is your favorite King Hall memory?
My favorite King Hall memory is meeting and getting to know my best friend, Kathryn Landreth. We met the first day of law school while on our way to orientation nearly 40 years ago!
What class at King Hall served you well in your career choice?
Negotiations served me well; it was a relatively new course when I took it. The class provided excellent skills training for my practice of law and greatly assisted me in conducting settlement conferences as a trial judge.
Do you have any advice for current law students?
Use your summer internships and any externships to explore your legal career choices. It's a great way to narrow or augment your list of possibilities.
Do you have any advice for students seeking jobs or internships?
Research well the firm or court to which you are applying. Educate yourself about the culture and scope of the firm or court, and prepare good questions to ask your interviewers. Career Services can also help you to prepare for the interviews or connect you with students and alumni who have interviewed or worked for the firm or court.