Name: Katja Butler
Trained at: Linklaters
In the Hot 100 for: Being a private equity star while still Skadden’s youngest partner globally. Read her full Hot 100 profile.
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
Without a doubt my first deal closing. I was a trainee at Linklaters and did a double all-nighter which ended (in the pub, of course) on 21 December 2007. I’d only ever watched all-nighters from a distance and hadn’t counted on how much the adrenaline would pump to get me through. We had a great team and we really pulled together to deliver the deal for the client. Back then I thought I was “just” the person doing the signature pages but now I tell my trainees that they’re the most important person in the room besides the client. If you don’t get the documents signed, you’re nowhere!
Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?
That would have to be Rich [Youle]. He often tells me he taught me everything I know, which isn’t quite true (Alex Woodward at Linklaters and Dan Braverman at Cleary, among others, played their parts), but he has taught me quite a bit over the years! He’s incredibly commercial, puts our clients and business first and knows how to have a laugh at the same time. He’s an exceptional mentor and friend.
What was the best career decision you ever made, and why?
Moving to Skadden. Every partner here is at the top of their game and it was a humbling vote of confidence that they asked me to join the firm. Although just starting out on this part of my career path, I’ve been here long enough to know that the service I am able to deliver to my clients and the personal opportunities that will come from working for one of the best US law firms in the world would be extremely difficult to parallel elsewhere.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
It’s a work hard/play hard job. Check in with yourself every now and then to ensure you’re having fun and that you like and admire the people you’re working with. If you’re working hard and enjoying yourself people will want to work with you and opportunities will come your way.
What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?
In the long-term I’d like to become a magistrate one day. My first work experience was with Barbara Petchey, now Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for Yorkshire & Humberside. Shadowing her, and then working for her as a student, was hugely inspirational to a young woman thinking of getting into law.
Working as a magistrate would be a great way to use the skills I’ve since learned to give something back to the community I live in. My mum has done the same in her retirement and I’d love to follow in her footsteps.