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Advice to My Younger Self: London Partner Melissa Butler

Book open Reading time: 3 mins
September 2023: Melissa Butler is a partner in the Capital Markets Practice in London. She looks back on her career and what she's learned along the way.

I always wanted to live in London

I was working as an associate in a New York firm when a recruiter called about the position at White & Case. After a particularly gruelling deal, I was ready for a change and I'd always wanted to move abroad. When you work for an international firm like White & Case, you always feel connected to friends and colleagues around the world.

Don't be afraid to take risks

You can advance in your career and still do the things you want in life. I've gone on secondment to Hong Kong, and taken a few months off during the financial crisis to train as a yoga teacher in Bali. It's always good to make time to check in with yourself and make sure that this is the right career for you. And I still practice yoga.

You'll form strong friendships with people you work with

My first day as a lawyer was 12 September 2001, and my office was meant to be in Tower 2 of the World Trade Centre. The bonds that I formed with the people that I worked with then—and others that I've worked closely with since—are unbreakable. You spend a lot of time at work. The friendships you make will help you through the harder times.

I'm a different lawyer now to ten years ago

At one point in my career, being good at my job meant being super-responsive, super 'on' all the time. But now, I think that my perspective and my judgement are more important than how quickly I fire off emails.

Be in the driving seat of your career

This is a firm where those who put their hand up—for more responsibility, new experiences, secondments or international opportunities—will succeed. Look for projects to work with as many different people as possible. And ask questions, especially of more senior lawyers. You will learn a lot.

Balance is a see-saw, not a flat line

Some days, my kids' needs are my priority and I make work fit around that. Other times, family commitments have to take a back seat. I take it day by day, and constantly assess what my priorities are and what has to give.

Melissa Butler

A full-service global firm is resilient in uncertain times

As a capital markets lawyer, we're less busy in economic downturns. But other parts of the Firm—and other markets around the world—will be booming. There's always something to get involved in and something new to learn. My advice to juniors is always to put their hands up, get involved and say yes.

Diversity and inclusion: The White & Case way

As the partner sponsor for the LGBTQ+ Spectrum network, I champion our diversity initiatives and encourage everyone to support as allies. There's always more that unites us than divides us. Our trainees in London speak multiple languages and come from very different backgrounds. They're all starting new careers in a new city, and sharing an amazing experience together; it's very inclusive.

Living our values: Pioneering, united and human

We want everyone who works here to feel connected to our values and to live them. It's a two-way street; it's not just about what you'll experience but what you want people to experience from you. It's one of the things that we look for in new recruits. If they're not important values for you, then it's not the right firm for you.

Making your mark: A positive choice about the impact you can have

We're all responsible for other people's experience of working at this Firm. So it's up to me to choose whether or not to give others a good or bad experience. That's the choice we make every day, in every interaction.