Champion of Justice: State Representative Ann M. Williams
State Representative Ann Williams (D) has proudly served the 11th District of Illinois in the State General Assembly since 2011. In law school, she clerked at IEJF grantee LAF and served as a volunteer lawyer for what is now Domestic Violence Legal Clinic. As Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Legislative Director, she advocated for the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation appropriation.
Representative Williams understands civil legal aid and works to ensure her colleagues do as well. She has provided invaluable advice and advocacy support and is always a friendly face in Springfield. Representative Williams was kind enough to answer a few questions about why legal aid funding is important to her, her constituency and society as a whole.
How did you become involved with the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation?
I first became aware of the great work the IEJF does for Illinois residents while working as the Legislative Director for Attorney General Lisa Madigan. I have always understood how critical these services are, though, and I interned for LAF (previously known as the Legal Assistance Foundation), a provider of legal aid in the Chicago area.
After I was elected State Representative, I continued to work closely with the IEJF to ensure the provision of quality legal aid services to Illinois residents.
How has legal aid impacted your constituents?
Regardless of what area you represent, there is a need for legal aid. During the economic downturn, this need increased as funding sources decreased. I want to be able to tell my constituents they have somewhere to turn for an answer and advice when faced with legal issues and retaining a private attorney is simply not an option.
When you talk to legislators and other stakeholders about the importance of state funding for legal aid, what is your 15 second elevator speech?
Imagine being confronted with a major legal issue pertaining to something central to you and your family’s well-being as housing, domestic violence, financial trouble , workplace discrimination. Then imagine you have no resources to address it or fight it. You would feel helpless and powerless. Legal aid gives help to those who need it most, when they are most vulnerable. Providing legal aid to those in need is an integral part of a just and fair society.
To learn more about Representative Williams’ legislative work, click here.