Reimagining Law: Advancing Diversity in the Legal Profession, Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.)

In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), Of Counsel at Jones Day. Judge Williams discusses diversity in the legal profession, COVID-19’s potential to impact diversity efforts, and what lawyers and judges can do to help fight systemic racism.

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  • 0:49 – The death of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked protests that devolved into riots in many cities across the country. What’s the lesson for the legal profession?
  • 4:14 – The legal profession is one of the least diverse of all professions. What specific actions can you recommend for corporate clients and law firms to change that paradigm?
  • 11:39 – As a result of COVID-19, many large firms reduced their summer associate programs and laid off lawyers. The economic downturn of 2008 and 2009 negatively impacted people of color and underrepresented minorities. How will this economic downturn impact minority attorneys in law firms?
  • 14:59 – Many say systemic racism is embedded in our society. Do you feel that it’s embedded in our laws and, if so, what should lawyers and judges be doing to rectify that situation?

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Judge Ann Claire Williams

Judge Williams is Of Counsel at Jones Day and a former U.S. Court of Appeals judge. She was nominated to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois in 1985, making her the first woman of color to serve on a district court in the three-state Seventh Circuit. In 1999, after her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Judge Williams became the first and only judge of color to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the third Black woman to serve on any federal circuit court.

Judge Williams has partnered with judiciaries, attorneys, NGOs, and the U.S. Departments of Justice and State to promote the effective delivery of justice worldwide, particularly in Africa. The Commission works closely with Judge Williams on Jumpstart, an educational program that supports underrepresented minority law students in their first year of law school and teaches best practices to become successful lawyers.

Connect with Judge Ann Claire Williams

About Reimagining Law

The Reimagining Law video series explores how legal and judicial professionals are adapting the delivery of services to meet the unique needs of today’s consumers. The first episodes will focus on the ways that attorneys and judges are continuing to deliver justice amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reimagining Law is produced by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. This episode was recorded on June 25, 2020.

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