Even as a child Jada Shantal Butler knew she wanted to become an attorney. Last Friday that dream came true as Superior Court Chief Judge Harold A. Hinesley swore her into the State Bar of Georgia. In the days of COVID-19, rather than a handshake the judge congratulated her with an elbow bump in his courtroom after she signed the book to make it official. Butler, 28, graduated from Thomson High School in 2011 and her education trek took her first to Milledgeville and then onto Atlanta, where she lives now. But, when it was time to take her oath she chose to come home.
“This is where it all started. Thomson is the place that molded me into the person that I am today,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Thomson, the people in Thomson, my teachers, the faculty and staff at the high school, and my mentors that I gained while living in Thomson. Miss Anita Cummings was a very powerful mentor for me, and my family is here. I wouldn’t dare think about having it any where else but the place that made me who I am.” She recalls watching Law and Order and similar shows and being interested in becoming a lawyer. “At the age of 10 I decided I wanted to go to law school,” she said. That dream to become a lawyer motivated Butler academically. “I’ve always been a person who is very into education. I do believe it’s a way to change your life for the better,” she said. “It did make me strive and work harder because I knew that I couldnt go to law school with just getting by.” In high school she was involved in extracurricular activities as well. Butler played the French horn in the THS band and was on color guard her junior and senior year. After graduating from THS, she moved to Milledgeville to attend Georgia College and State University where she earned a double major in sociology and criminal justice. Then she earned her masters degree in criminal justice. Was it intimidating to leave her small college town she knew well, Milledgeville, and go off to law school in Atlanta? “Absolutely. Honestly that is one of the reasons I went to get my masters was because I was scared. I was scared to fail,” she said. “So I decided that I wasn’t ready for law school and I had to think it over and make sure this was something I really wanted to do because it’s a lot of time and it’s a lot of money.” She was accepted to John Marshall Law School and earned her degree then started preparing to take the bar exam. “Bar study was very different from what it usually is because of COVID-19. Instead of studying for 16 weeks I studied for five months,” she said. “It was five months of basically 12 hour days for me. It was very stressful and sometimes mentally draining. But, I had a goal and I knew that I couldn’t let myself fail.” She said she pushed through and her support crew, family and friends in Thomson, were always there to support her. She took the bar exam in October. Her birthday was Friday, Dec. 11, and the following Monday she received her bar exam score and learned she had passed. She is now working for the Law Offices of Precious Felder LLC where she will be handling family law cases. She is even open to taking on clients from her hometown. “I don’t mind traveling two hours to assist anyone with their family law needs so Thomson is a place where my services will be available,” she said. What advice do you have for those in high school or just out of high school? “Make sure that you don’t let fear keep you from doing what you want to do and what you love. Just because you are from a small town does not mean you are a small person,” she said. “If I could do it, anybody else could do it.”