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 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. 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, 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.
HONORS & DISTINCTIONS
Recipient of numerous awards and honors, including:
Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice
Award; ABA's Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of
Achievement Award; National Bar Association's
Gertrude E. Rush Award; National Association of
Women Lawyers' Arabella Babb Mansfield Award;
Association of Corporate Counsel Chicago Chapter's
Thurgood Marshall Award; Chicago Lawyer "Person of
the Year"; Newsweek Daily Beast's "150 Fearless
Women in the World"
University of Notre Dame (J.D. 1975); University of
Michigan (M.A. in Guidance and Counseling 1972);
Wayne State University (B.S. in Elementary Education
Illinois, Supreme Court of the United States, U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Law Clerk to Judge Robert A. Sprecher, U.S. Court of
Appeals, Seventh Circuit (1975-1976)
Judge: U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit (1999-
2018) and U.S. District Court, Northern District of
Illinois (1985-1999); served with the U.S. Attorney's
Office, Northern District of Illinois (1976-1985) as
Chief, Organized Drug Enforcement Task Force
(1983-1985), Deputy Chief, Criminal Receiving and
Appellate Division (1980-1983), and Assistant U.S.