Judge Ann Claire Williams joins Jones Day to lead Firm’s efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa

Judge Ann Claire Williams joins Jones Day to lead Firm’s efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa

The global law firm Jones Day has announced that retired Seventh Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams will join the Firm to lead its efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa and will add to the Firm's leading trial and appellate practices. Judge Williams will be resident in Jones Day's Chicago Office.

Judge Williams was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1985 to the United States District Court for the 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 nominated Judge Williams to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, making her the first judge of color on that court and the third woman of color to serve on any United States Court of Appeals. Judge Williams retired from the bench earlier this year.

"As the foundation of any society, the rule of law is key to the operation of free markets and commercial transactions," said Jones Day Managing Partner Stephen J. Brogan. "If globalization is to be a force for human development, the rule of law must be at its center. Jones Day has long been devoted to advancing the rule of law around the world. There is no better person to lead Jones Day's work in this regard in Africa than Ann."

Throughout her years of federal service, Judge Williams devoted countless hours to judicial, local, national, and international communities. In addition to training new federal district court judges for many years at the Federal Judicial Center, she was the first woman of color appointed to three significant positions in the federal judiciary by Chief Justices of the United States Supreme Court. Two appointments related to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the national policy-making body for the federal courts: Chair of the Court Administration and Case Management Committee and member of the Judicial Branch Committee. She was also appointed to the Supreme Court Fellows Program Commission. Serving as Treasurer and President of the Federal Judges' Association, she was the first judge of color to become an officer of that organization which represents more than 1,100 federal judges and works to preserve the independence of the federal judiciary.

Internationally, Judge Williams has devoted herself to training judges and lawyers worldwide, particularly in Africa. Over the last 17 years, Judge Williams has led a number of international delegations, teaching trial and appellate advocacy at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and travelling to Kenya, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda where she trained judges and lawyers on such topics as domestic and gender violence, human and wildlife trafficking, judicial ethics and opinion writing, civil and criminal case management, alternative dispute resolution, and trial and appellate advocacy in collaboration with Lawyers Without Borders, the U.S. Departments of Justice and State, the Virtue Foundation, National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA), Fordham Law School, and the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School.

"Strengthening the rule of law is a key global priority. Jones Day has presented me with the extraordinary and unique opportunity to continue my work in partnering with African legal communities by enhancing court systems that promote effective delivery of justice and by promoting the rule of law through the development of educational and training programs," Judge Williams said.

"Judge Williams is without question one of the most highly regarded members of our community," said Tina Tabacchi, Partner-in-Charge of Jones Day's Chicago Office. "She has an incredibly impressive record of success throughout her legal career. Not only are we looking forward to working with her in advancing the rule of law in Africa, but Judge Williams will be a valuable resource for our clients facing complex litigation and appellate issues."

"Jones Day has a long history of providing our clients with legal assistance on matters in Africa and working on rule of law projects in Africa. For example, we recently advised the 17-state Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa on its historic initiative to reform its arbitration act and create a uniform mediation act," said Javade Chaudhri, Partner-in-Charge of Jones Day's Middle East/Africa Region. "Judge Williams' knowledge of and enthusiasm for advancing the rule of law in Africa will significantly contribute to this important and valuable work."

A lifelong educator and public servant, Judge Williams taught in the Detroit Public Schools before attending the University of Notre Dame Law School. After law school, Judge Williams clerked for the Hon.  Robert A. Sprecher of the Seventh Circuit, the same court to which she was ultimately appointed. Following her clerkship, Judge Williams became an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) and the first woman of color to serve as a Deputy Chief and Chief of a Criminal Division in the Chicago Office. While working as an AUSA, she taught trial advocacy as an adjunct professor and lecturer at Northwestern University School of Law and John Marshall Law School. Later, as a judge, she continued teaching trial advocacy at Chicago area law schools and Harvard Law School. Throughout her career, she has taught in more than 100 trial advocacy and deposition programs with NITA in the United States and Europe.

Committed to public interest work, Judge Williams led a number of local and national efforts to expand the pipeline for minorities and women. These efforts include being the founder of Just the Beginning - A Pipeline Organization, which creates programs for students of color and other underrepresented groups from middle school through law school to inspire and equip them to pursue legal and judicial careers. She also co-founded the Black Women Lawyers' Association of Chicago and Minority Legal Education Resources, Inc., an organization that has helped approximately 4,000 lawyers pass the Illinois bar. She will continue her work in these important areas while at Jones Day.

Judge Williams serves on the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Board, the University of Notre Dame, Equal Justice Works, NITA, and Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Judge Williams has received numerous awards for her contributions. She is the only woman judge of color who has received the American Judicature Society's Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award for making a substantial contribution to the administration of justice. She has also received the American Bar Association's Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award and the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession's Spirit of Excellence Award, the National Bar Association's Gertrude E. Rush Award, the National Association of Women Lawyer's Arabella Babb Mansfield Award, the Association of Corporate Counsel Chicago Chapter's Thurgood Marshall Award, the Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago's Pioneer Award, the Chicago Bar Association's John Paul Stevens and Earl Burrus Dickerson Awards, and Chicago Inn of Court's Joel M. Flaum Award. She has also been named as one of Newsweek Daily Beast's 150 Fearless Women in the World, the Chicago Lawyer Person of the Year, listed as one of Chicago's 100 Most Influential and Powerful Women by both Crain's magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times, and inducted into the Cook County Bar Association Hall of Fame.

Jones Day is a global law firm with more than 2,500 lawyers in 43 offices across five continents. The Firm is distinguished by: a singular tradition of client service; the mutual commitment to, and the seamless collaboration of, a true partnership; formidable legal talent across multiple disciplines and jurisdictions; and shared professional values that focus on client needs.

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