Building a Pipeline: A Focus from the Beginning

To improve diversity in the legal profession, we need to start at the beginning—grade school, high school, college, and law school. Pipeline programs that train and support underrepresented minority law students can provide the next generation with the skills they need to become successful legal practitioners and the connections to get a foot in the door.

In this talk, Judge Ann Claire Williams will provide perspective on how attorneys of all colors and law firms big and small can play a significant role in building the pipeline of diverse attorneys and on the importance of mentorship and sponsorship.

Speaker Bio

Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) 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 on Professionalism 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 them best practices to become successful lawyers.