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UHLC alum Butler ’81 builds career on foundation of standing up for employee rights

Jan. 7, 2019 – Fighting for the underdog has been a staple throughout the legal career of Harris D. Butler.

University of Houston Law Center Professor Michael A. Olivas makes remarks after receiving the AALS Triennial Award on Thursday in New Orleans. (Photo courtesy of AALS)

Harris Butler ‘81

The 1981 University of Houston Law Center alumnus is the founding partner of his firm Butler Royals, which was established in 2011 in Richmond, Va. The firm focuses on employment law cases which include class and representative actions, sexual harassment, overtime compensation, discrimination and defamation.

“I have always had a David and Goliath point of view about what I do and have enjoyed kind of challenging power structures that abuse their power,” Butler said. “I find it extremely fulfilling to help individuals who come to us basically facing what they think are insurmountable odds with a well-funded employer on the other side.”

Butler began his career as an associate at the Law Offices of Larry Watts where he did public sector employee work, before practicing in his own firm in Houston from 1983-1986.  He relocated to Virginia and worked as an associate with Midkiff & Associates from 1986-1988. He then returned to private practice where he has remained since.

When reminiscing about his favorite memories as a Law Center student, he recalls the hands-on instruction he received from adjunct professor Jim Perdue ’63, who he said set his students up for success outside of the classroom.

“He made it a priority to prepare us for the hectic practice of law,” he said. “The Law Center is really good at getting qualified practicing lawyers as adjunct professors.”

Butler’s advice to aspiring attorneys is to pursue a practice area you are interested in over the most lucrative employment options.

“If you’re doing something that you love, then you’re going to do it well,” Butler said. “If you take a job because of money, you’re going to hate it.”

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