When Stacy Butler, the director of the Innovation for Justice Program, is asked if she will ever practice law again, she doesn’t hesitate to answer.
“No,” Butler says. “I had very few years in private practice. It was adversarial and antagonistic. It didn’t feed my soul.”
Butler has since found her calling in the i4J program, through which she satisfies her passion to open up the justice system to more Americans. “Even in law school, I was interested in the legal needs of the low-income community and looking at service models and systems and trying to understand the justice gap,” says Butler, a third-generation Tucsonan who got her JD at University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.
The i4J program, which is housed at the University of Arizona law school and the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, celebrates its fifth anniversary in February. It is an incubator-style social justice innovation lab made up of teams of law school students and professors. In the lab, Butler has helped develop platforms and services to deal with common legal problems, including eviction, medical debt collection and online dispute resolution.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Butler, 45, has mostly taught remotely from inside her Tucson home, which she shares with her daughter Izzy, 16; son Augy, 13; as well as their two parakeets, Ozzie and Rio; and three dogs, Max, Blue and Smush.