Leah Williams: Applying law lessons to life

In many ways, Leah Williams, 34, has led an ideal life. She has earned an advanced degree from a prestigious university, co-founded a media relations company, was appointed by her colleagues to serve on a board in a professional capacity and serves as a mentor to disadvantaged young people.

“The advancement of the future is less about contention and more about how we can collaborate,” Williams said.

Williams, CEO and co-founder of Strategies LLC, is an example of someone in the legal profession who does not practice law. “I always wanted to go to law school because I thought it would be a good education,” Williams said.

Yet when she graduated from Stanford Law School as president of the Class of 2000, rather than practice law in the traditional sense, Williams co-founded Strategies. She describes the firm as being at the center of social responsibility and strategic planning, and explains that her legal training helps her understand the complex legal and regulatory environment she works in, and that the critical, analytical and leadership skills she honed at Stanford Law School have served her well. They have allowed her to shape a career that she believes in: a women and minority-owned consulting firm that runs media relations, public affairs, and strategic policy campaigns.

At the beginning of March, Williams was appointed by the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California to a two-year term on the State Bar of California Council on Access and Fairness. The council, formed in the fall of 2006, is charged with providing resources and advising for young people interested in law, from preschool through law school.

“One of the greatest challenges we face is leaking of the educational pipeline,” Williams said. The council aims to develop students’ skills and create opportunities for them to pursue the legal profession. The council’s 25 members include attorneys, judges, educators and corporate executives.

Williams is a member of the executive committee of One Voice PAC, co-founder and executive committee member of the Black Alumni Association of Stanford Law School, a member of the board of trustees of Presidio Hill School, and has recently finished board terms for World Arts West and Friends of the Children.

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