In Memoriam: Laura Butler, 1949-2022
RALEIGH – Laura Butler, a long-time attorney in our Central Intake Unit, passed away unexpectedly January 26.
Laura was truly special. Her passion and dedication to serving our clients was unparalleled. Even in an organization full of selfless people, Laura stood out.
She always put our clients’ time before her own, even requesting flexibility in her schedule so she could staff our intake Helpline after hours, ensuring that our clients’ work schedules didn’t prevent them from securing justice. She always volunteered to be the on-call attorney during holidays, allowing her colleagues to celebrate with their families while ensuring that no client was left behind. She also donated generously to causes that provided for our clients.
Laura was one of the founding members of our Central Intake Unit, joining us in 2006, soon after the unit’s creation. She was part-time until her passing, using the extra hours to volunteer and engage in her many community activities.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Laura was an engineer. As a well-thought-out second career, Laura decided to attend law school and ultimately joined Legal Aid with the sole purpose of giving back. She believed in Legal Aid’s mission to serve low-income and marginalized communities.
During her time with us, Laura made an impact not only on the clients she worked with, but with her colleagues. The following testaments come from those who knew and worked with her.
“‘How can I help?’ That was Laura’s purpose, whether it was helping a client or her colleagues. Laura did not limit her help to workdays or work hours. I still remember the many times during the holidays – Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day – when she contacted me to determine if the client had an emergency we needed to address.”
—Vilma Suarez, Deputy Director of Operations, former Managing Attorney of our Central Intake Unit
“Laura was one of the most selfless people I have ever known. She always searched for ways to help our clients. At the office, she would ask everyone how they were doing and if they needed any help. She was also unflappable. I never once heard her raise her voice or complain about anything. She was a very calming presence in our office. Her loss cannot be overstated.”
—Alison Everett, Supervising Attorney, Central Intake Unit
“Laura was a respected colleague and a dear friend. We began working together when the Legal Aid Helpline was created over fifteen years ago. Clients and coworkers have come and gone, but Laura remained a constant, never losing sight of our mission, never losing her zeal for advocating for our clients. Her quiet calm and fierce advocacy will be missed by those she served, and by all of us who had the pleasure of working with her and counting her as a friend.”
—Robert Amrine, Attorney, Central Intake Unit
“Laura was passionate about helping people. She was always there for a colleague or a client. Laura quietly helped without seeking recognition. She donated generously to the NC Legal Feeding Frenzy and to others in need. Her kindness was well known and she touched all those she met. She will be deeply missed.”
—Sulaifa H. Siddiqui, Supervising Attorney, Central Intake Unit
“Laura was the go-to person that everyone knew could handle a client case without hesitation. She was not only an excellent attorney but also a dear friend who cared about her colleagues and wanted to be involved to help or lend a listening ear. Yes, she was that person that you could truly count on, and she will be honored for her loyalty and her loving, giving spirit.”
—Connie Johnson, Intake Paralegal, Central Intake Unit
“Laura was truly unparalleled in her ability to engage with our clients, especially those in stressful situations. Her manner unfailingly imparted empathy, compassion, and reassurance to clients that they were being heard and that she would do whatever she could to help. I was fortunate to work within earshot of her for many years and learn from her example.”
—Hope Williams, Supervising Attorney, Fair Housing Project
“Not only was Laura an amazing advocate for her clients, but she was a great person. She will be missed.”
—Andrea Johnson, Paralegal, Fair Housing Project
“I was privileged to work with Laura during my time at Legal Aid. I spent most of my time with her as an interpreter for her clients. I would notice that she was very devoted and how she took time to inform and educate her clients. She was passionate about her work. Her work left an impression and motivated me to always advocate for my clients to the best of my ability.”
—Raul Diaz, former staff, Central Intake Unit