Judge Ann ClaireWilliams (Ret.)

Of Counsel

Chicago + 1.312.269.1575

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, Uganda, and Zambia. 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 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. 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 NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, 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 and chairs the Advisory Board of the International Law Institute-South African Centre for Excellence.

Speaking Engagements

  • September 16, 2021
    A Conversation with Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret): Insights and Lessons Learned, Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Dean's Speaker Series, Diversity Week
  • August 10, 2021
    The Crucial Role of Forensic Evidence: A Judicial Perspective, Lagos (Nigeria) Forensic Symposium
  • August 3, 2021
    A Conversation with Justice Mary Sey, Justice of the Supreme Court of Gambia, Institute for African Women in Law
  • July 26, 2021
    A Conversation with Justice Florence Mumba, judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and former Zambia Supreme Court justice, Institute for African Women in Law
  • May 20, 2021
    A Conversation with Justice Monica Mugenyi, East African Court of Justice, Institute for African Women in Law
  • May 18, 2021
    A Conversation with Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Institute for African Women in Law
  • May 13, 2021
    Just the Beginning-A Pipeline Organization Education & Mentorship Roundtable, panelist
  • May 6, 2021
    A Conversation with Judge Nkemdilim Izuako, United Nations Dispute Tribunal, Institute for African Women in Law
  • April 29, 2021
    Building a Pipeline: A Focus From the Beginning, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism The Future Is Now Conference
  • April 26, 2021
    A Conversation with Judge Memooda Ebrahim-Carstens, United Nations Dispute Tribunal, Institute for African Women in Law
  • April 20, 2021
    A Conversation with Justice Joyce Aluoch, former judge of the International Criminal Court and of the Kenya Court of Appeal, Institute for African Women in Law
  • April 7, 2021
    Appealing for Change: Diversifying the Appellate Bar, American Constitution Society and Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law panel
  • April 6, 2021
    A Conversation with Judge Julia Sebutinde, International Court of Justice, Institute for African Women in Law
  • March 25, 2021
    A Conversation with Chief Justice Irene Mambilima, Zambia Supreme Court, African Institute for Women in Law
  • February 26, 2021
    Judicial Trailblazers and the Hills They've Climbed: A Discussion with Preeminent African-American Judges and Their Challenges and Triumphs, American Bar Association
  • February 24, 2021
    Black History Month speaker, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois
  • February 17, 2021
    A Conversation with Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), University of Southern California Gould School of Law Black Law Students Association
  • February 16, 2021
    A Conversation with Justice Mumbi Ngugi (Kenya), Northwestern Law School Global Jurist of the Year Award recipient, moderator
  • February 10, 2021
    The Road to the Federal Bench, Cook County Bar Association, moderator
  • February 9, 2021
    Celebration of Black History Month: A Discussion with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Chicago Federal Bar Association, moderator
  • January 12, 2021
    Police Reform: Legal Profession Effecting Change, Jones Day University
  • November 12, 2020
    The State of the Nation: Post-Election 2020, ChIPs (Chiefs in Intellectual Property) and Corporate Counsel Women of Color Roundtable
  • November 12, 2020
    A Conversation with the Judiciary: Re-Imagining Diversity in Local and Federal Courts, Greater Washington Area Chapter, Women Lawyers Division of the National Bar Association
  • November 6, 2020
    Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Inaugural Black Women & the Law Summit
  • October 29, 2020
    Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World, moderator, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center event
  • October 23, 2020
    A Conversation with 82nd U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair, moderator
  • October 22, 2020
    Promoting Social Justice Initiatives During These Uncertain Times, Association of Corporate Counsel San Diego
  • October 19, 2020
    The Life and Legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association
  • September 17, 2020
    Governing for the People: Leadership in an Age of Inequality, Interview of Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, The American Dream Reconsidered conference, moderator
  • August 26, 2020
    A Judge's Journey, Minority Corporate Counsel Association event
  • August 20, 2020
    Diversifying Your Clerks: The Way to a More Diverse Appellate Bar, National Foundation for Judicial Excellence Sixteenth Annual Judicial Symposium
  • August 18, 2020
    Seneca Women’s Fast Forward Women’s Leadership Forum at the New York Stock Exchange, panelist
  • July 31, 2020
    Mediation and Arbitration in the Times of Covid-19, Barefoot Law (Uganda) and Strathmore University (Kenya) speaker series
  • July 28, 2020
    Hail to the Chiefs, Panel of Black Chief Judges and Justices at National Bar Association 95th Annual Conference, Moderator
  • July 21, 2020
    Democracy and the Rule of Law in the Age of Covid-19, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law webinar
  • June 17, 2020
    Black Lives Matter and the Criminal Justice System: A Conversation with the Bench
  • June 16, 2020
    A Practical Guide to Building a Diverse and Inclusive Legal Team
  • June 11, 2020
    Standing Up and Speaking Out, a joint event with ChIPs (Chiefs in Intellectual Property) and Corporate Counsel Women of Color
  • June 5, 2020
    Mediating This Moment, a Straus Center for Dispute Resolution Global Community Conversation
  • February 20, 2020
    A Conversation with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
  • November 22, 2019
    Justice, Jurisprudence, and the Law: Emerging Legal Trends and Jurisprudence on Development, International Commission of Jurists (Kenya) conference
  • November 5, 2019
    American Heart Association Counsel for a Cause Hasbrouck Heart Award recipient, keynote
  • October 17, 2019
    Posse Foundation Chicago Power of 10 Honoree, keynote
  • 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
  • September 6, 2018
    Creating an Enabling Environment for Innovation in Africa's Burgeoning Private Sector, International Law Institute-African Centre for Legal Excellence Celebration of 20 Years in Africa, Kampala, Uganda
  • 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