Margaret Isa Butler JD '01 MBA '01

Margaret Isa Butler JD '01 MBA '01

A powerhouse of transactional law

After completing a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard, Margaret Isa Butler enrolled in the JD/MBA Program at Columbia, where she earned recognition as a James Kent Scholar and served as senior editor of the Columbia Law Review. Margaret focused on M&A and private equity deals as a lawyer upon graduating, and complemented her legal expertise with experience in investment banking. Margaret is currently a partner at the firm Ice Miller, focusing on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and alternative investments.

What attracted you to the JD/MBA Program?

I discovered my passion for business transactions when I read Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, which tells the story of the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco. I pursued the JD/MBA because I was eager to understand all the factors that drive and shape a deal—strategy, valuation, financing, tax, antitrust, securities law, currency considerations… I still get excited talking about it! As for why I chose Columbia—I didn’t want to leave New York City. Once I arrived, I was so impressed by the quality of the teaching and the strength of the network that I convinced my husband to pursue his own MBA at Columbia.

How has your JD/MBA degree helped you through your career?

The JD/MBA has allowed me to reinvent myself over the course of my career. After practicing law for five years, I decided to try my hand at investment banking. Although I eventually returned to the practice of law, the cross-training accelerated my professional development. My current role as a law firm partner requires me to think broadly about my practice and my industry, and to function as a leader—all things I learned in the MBA program.

What aspects of your profession do you find most rewarding, and why?

I’m a deal junkie, so I really enjoy the problem solving—basically, connecting the dots between what my client wants, needs, or cares about and the best outcome I can deliver. I also enjoy working with, and continuing to learn from, incredibly smart and creative people.

What advice would you give to current and aspiring JD/MBA students?

  1. Practice like you play because you’ll play like you practice.
  2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  3. Your job is to find the right balance between 1 and 2.