My father was an attorney. As a child, I noticed that he represented people when they were injured. Many of the early cases he worked on involved a drug called Thalidomide. This was a drug which was given to pregnant women to prevent or reduce morning sickness. However, it turned out that it caused birth defects which often included major limb deformities. I met many of these children while I was young and was moved by their plight. I remember thinking that helping them and their families was important and noble work.
When I was seventeen I had just returned from a four month bicycle tour of Central America. One day, I was racing with four other young men on my bike down the face of a mountain near Los Angeles. On the way down, a station wagon driving on the wrong side of the road ran into me. I was seriously injured and nearly lost my left leg. I spent nine months in the hospital and ended up with a fused left knee. The driver left the scene and was never heard from again. At that point, I knew what it felt like to be harmed and want justice.
But, law school was not yet in my sights. I initially rebelled against my father. I pursued jobs in many fields and studied both music and rhetoric. My rebellion lasted only so long. But, after I began working at Legal Aid and helped disabled people with the Social Security Disability cases, I did very well and my boss told I me I had talent as an advocate. She said that I needed to go to law school to expand that skill and my desire to be useful to others.
So, I did. And, in my final year of law school, I took an advocacy class from a renowned judge, Hon. Ira Brown. He told me that I should become a plaintiff’s attorney, i.e., one who represents people who are injured in order to help them and their families recover from the effects of serious injuries. Given the exposure to my father’s work, my own injury and my disability work before law school, such work was a natural fit for me. And, after law school, I went to work for a firm dedicated to helping injured workers in personal injury, workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability cases. I sharpened my trial skills and enjoyed helping others who had had fates similar to mine in the bicycle accident. I felt that the work I was doing was societally important; I was able to hold wrongdoers accountable obtain compensation for those that were harmed. I feel blessed to have been able to represent those injured for almost 30 years and started my own firm (Butler Viadro, LLP in Oakland, California). Each time I obtain a win for a deserving client, whether it is before a jury, a judge or by agreement of the parties, I know that there is a reason I was put here. Conversion of the grapes of wrath into the wine of justice has given my life meaning.
For more information or if you or a loved one has been injured due to a personal injury or workplace accident, contact James G. Butler, an experienced Oakland personal injury attorney for an immediate consultation.