Municipal law, Sec. 1983 civil rights defense, tort defense, civil litigation, and administrative law are my primary areas of practice. I have prior experience in traffic and ordinance prosecution, a brief stint in juvenile delinquency defense and private general practice. Prior to becoming City Attorney in Lockport Illinois, I worked in City of Peoria’s Legal Department, starting as its Assistant Corporation Counsel. I have over 17 years of municipal law and litigation experience in complex civil tort cases in state and federal courts; civil actions for injunctive relief; and successfully argued before the 3rd District Appellate Court, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Illinois Supreme Court.
How has your practice evolved in the last few years?
My case assignments have led more of my practice towards state tort civil cases and federal civil rights defense cases, with less emphasis on prosecution.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
Find a good reputable mentor who is not only a successful attorney, but one whose actions reflect professionalism, civility and inclusiveness on the highest level.
What’s one technological device, application or tool you could not function without?
The computer — whether it be my desktop or my laptop computer. I do so much research online and frequently draft memorandums, pleadings, motions, and briefs that I could not do my job without having access to the internet, and the basic functions of a writing software.
How has civility made a difference in your practice of law?
It has been the calming constant in my practice. Whenever I get frustrated with an opposing counsel or a party who acts like a jerk, I think about an attorney who epitomizes civility, the late Robert (“Bob”) Jennetten, who founded the Peoria County Bar Associations’ Diversity Committee, and I say to myself what would Bob do. Even though I knew Bob shared my frustration that we were not getting through to all of the members of the bar, he would always show patience and positivity that we would one day reach that point — that point where all will realize the key to professionalism is diversity and inclusion.
What do you do for fun?
I train and run 5ks, half marathons, and marathons. The best part of the year-round training is that I get to share my love of running with a group of wonderful people, my running “family”, who are so kind, supportive, and funny.
In my spare time, I also love to spend time with my sons, Ian who is a freshman at University of Illinois-Champaign and Alex who is a freshman in high school, and my husband, Dick B. (“Rich”) Williams. We have logged many miles on my minivan driving to Champaign to visit our Ian. As a family, we love going on vacations together, riding our bikes on the Rock Island Trail, and watching movies in the theater or at home on Netflix. Whenever I have time, I try to cook my sons’ favorite meals and bake cookies, brownies and cupcakes. I also volunteer as a reading buddy for kindergartners at the local elementary school as a Roosevelt Reader.
To learn more about Sonni Williams, go to City of Lockport.