Miami Law Alumna Kathleen Williams


The Honorable Kathleen M. Williams, J.D.'82, was recently confirmed by the United States Senate to be a district judge for the Southern District of Florida. President Barack Obama nominated Williams to the bench last July.

Williams has been a Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Florida since 1995. The Palm Beach county native and Miami Law alumna was the first female defender appointed not only in the district but in the entire state. Active in moot court in law school, Williams returns often to Miami Law to judge the competitions.

Although Williams worked at law firms over the years, including at Fowler, White and Morgan, Lewis, she always returned to government. She spent four years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and five years as the Chief Assistant Federal Public Defender. As Federal Public Defender, she spent six years as chairperson of the Federal Defender Services Advisory Group, representing all federal and community defenders and panel attorneys before the Judicial Conference subcommittee. The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers gave Williams the Founder's Award in 2007, and the American Civil Liberties Union presented her with the C. Clyde Atkins Civil Liberties Award in 2003. In 2009, she received Miami Law's Center for Ethics and Public Service's Lawyers in Leadership Award.

As a Federal public defender Williams has litigated a wide range of matters including immigration, complex fraud, and national security. She was also appointed to be the acting Federal public defender for the Middle District of Florida from 1999 to 2000.