Judge Ann ClaireWilliams (Ret.)

Of Counsel

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Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), a trailblazer and leader, heads Jones Day's efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa. Devoted to promoting the effective delivery of justice worldwide, particularly in Africa, she has partnered with judiciaries, attorneys, NGOs, and the U.S. Departments of Justice and State to lead training programs in Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. She also has taught at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

President Ronald Reagan nominated her in 1985 to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, making her the first woman of color to serve on a district court in the three-state Seventh Circuit. In 1999, President William Clinton's nomination made her the first and only judge of color to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the third woman of color to serve on any federal circuit court. She brings her vast experience on the bench to serve as a resource for the Firm's leading trial and appellate practices.

Judge Williams has served on many judicial committees and, as treasurer and president of the Federal Judges Association, was the first person of color to become an officer. Committed to public interest work she helped found Just The Beginning — A Pipeline Organization, the Black Women Lawyers' Association of Chicago, Minority Legal Education Resources, and the Public Interest Fellowship Program for Equal Justice Works. She serves on the boards of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, University of Notre Dame, National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), Weinstein International Foundation, iCivics, and Museum of Science & Industry Chicago.

Speaking Engagements

  • July 26, 2019
    American Bar Association Federal Trials Institute for Teachers
  • July 11, 2019
    A View from the Bench, Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law
  • June 25, 2019
    Justice in Our Hands, reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson in Windhoek, Namibia
  • June 12, 2019
    Rule of Law Initiatives and Developments in Africa
  • June 11, 2019
    The Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture on Women and the Law
  • May 29, 2019
    Weinstein International Foundation and Strathmore Dispute Resolution Centre International Mediation Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, coordinator and moderator
  • May 18, 2019
    DePaul Law School, commencement speaker
  • May 14, 2019
    Law Day Dinner benefiting Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, keynote
  • May 14, 2019
    What Judges Want CLE
  • March 20, 2019
    Judicial Firsts: Trailblazers on the Federal Bench, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • March 19, 2019
    Women in White Collar Defense Association Judges’ Panel
  • March 12, 2019
    Standing Up for Justice, Reception Hosted by U.S. Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan in Accra, Ghana to Honor Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) and Ghanaian Justice Sector Leaders
  • February 27, 2019
    A Conversation with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, moderator
  • February 22, 2019
    Mediation in a Globalized World: The Relevance of Mediation in a Global Economy, Weinstein International Foundation Regional Conference in Lima, Peru
  • February 11, 2019
    Blazing Trails: The Road Toward Justice, A Conversation with Former Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.)
  • November 16, 2018
    Gazelle Fountain Launch Event for Women in Leadership, Nairobi, Kenya, keynote
  • November 15, 2018
    The Light of Justice, Reception Hosted by U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec during Lawyers Without Borders training program in Nairobi, Kenya
  • November 7, 2018
    Ethical Aspects Relating to Legal Aid Funding; IDLO, East African Community, and National Legal Aid Service Access to Justice Through Legal Aid Conference
  • November 2, 2018
    Women’s Bar Foundation Scholarship Award Luncheon, honoree and keynote
  • October 26, 2018
    A Conversation with Former U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates: Unlocking Justice, Equal Justice Works Conference, moderator
  • September 21, 2018
    The Justice System and the Public Trust, Dallas Bar Association Diversity Summit
  • September 12, 2018
    A Conversation with Eric Holder: Public Service and Civil Rights, American Dream Reconsidered Conference, moderator
  • July 26, 2018
    Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Cyberspace, Strathmore Institute of Advanced Studies in Criminal Justice Conference in Nairobi, Kenya
  • July 25, 2018
    Making Impossible Dreams Possible, Reception Hosted by U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec to Honor Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), Nairobi, Kenya
  • July 10, 2018
    A Conversation with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Loyola University Chicago Rome Campus, moderator
  • June 21, 2018
    LAF/Legal Aid Chicago Annual Luncheon, Champion for Justice Honoree, keynote
  • June 8, 2018
    Advancing the Rule of Law in Africa and Beyond: Opportunities and Ethical Challenges, Jones Day University
  • April 21, 2018
    James C. Kimbrough Bar Association Annual Legacy Ball, honoree and keynote
  • March 27, 2018
    Cook County Bar Association Legends Luncheon, honoree and keynote
  • March 22, 2018
    The Role of Women in Promoting the Rule of Law in Africa, U.S. Department of State
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