LAW STUDENT SCHOLAR: Ashley Williams
- November 17, 2016
- Posted by:
- Category: LAW STUDENT SCHOLAR SPOTLIGHT , ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT ,
Q. What was your course of study in college at UCLA?
I attended UCLA. My major was Sociology with a minor in Education.
Q. How did you become interested in pursuing law?
I knew I wanted to go to law school when I got into the Law Magnet Program at Dorsey High School. I was also fueled by the fact that in my experience as a foster youth, there were few lawyers who effectively advocated on my behalf and my life was severely impacted because of it. Those experiences fueled my passion to become a lawyer that adequately represented the voice of foster youth.
Q. What steps did you take to prepare for law school?
Because I grew up in the foster care system, I was first on the social work path while at UCLA, but I woke up one morning and said to myself “stop running from law school!” I was fearful of law school because I did not think I could do well, and because I did not know people of color who were successful lawyers. Once I made up my mind, I began planning. I applied for the Sidley Austin Diversity Scholarship and the UCLA Law Fellows Program, which paid for my LSAT prep.
After graduating from UCLA in 2012, I became a Justice Corps Fellow for one year at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, where I worked in the Resource Self-Help Center. There, I educated litigants and helped them fill out paperwork regarding their legal issues. I also taught workshops for family court matters and worked with the Domestic Violence Clinic. Then, I participated in the CLEO ASAP and Pre-Law Summer Program.
Q. How did you find out about CLEO?
From my mentor, Judge Karen Ackerson-Brazil-Gauff.
Q. What benefits did you receive by participating in the CLEO programs?
I first attended the Achieving Success in the Application Process (ASAP) at Whittier Law School, where my mentor was the guest speaker. I was really motivated by that program on how to successfully apply for law school and tackle the LSAT. I loved the panel of current law students as well as the first-hand knowledge we received from members of the LSAC Board [and law school admission staff].
Then, I participated in the CLEO Pre-Law summer program at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where I studied legal writing, criminal law, contract law, and race and the law.
The program really helped me prepare for law school because we had actual required readings and class discussions just like law students, we were expected to know the material cold by the time we got to class, and we were able to get the feel of what it meant to really study in law school and take a final exam. I loved that the professors did not treat us any different from actual law students. By the time I left, I was confident that I was ready for law school.
Q. What helped you cope with the stress of law school?
Time management. I think most people get stressed out because they do not organize their time properly and efficiently. I also reached out to upperclassman for advice when I was worried about certain classes and struggling with understanding material. It is also important to get some kind of exercise, or listen to music, or have something you can do to keep you grounded.
Q. After law school, what are your legal career plans?
I plan to work for Children’s Law Center, representing minors in the Dependency and Juvenile Delinquency system. My end goal is to obtain a Judgeship in the Dependency court.
Q. What are you doing presently?
Currently, I am a Law Clerk at the Children’s Law Center. As I go into my last year of law school, I will continue to work as a caw clerk until graduation.
Q. Do you volunteer with any legal organizations?
I have volunteered with many organizations, such as the Teen Court Program, SHADES Program, Neighborhood Legal Services, One Justice Clinic, Southwestern’s Public Interest Law Committee, and Dennis Cook LLP Adoption Agency.
Q. Do you have any advice for future lawyers?
I would tell future lawyers, especially people of color, that it is okay to be a product of your own environment – just as long as you use it to the best of your advantage and achieve greatness and know there are opportunities to improve your life. Continue to seek mentors throughout your journey because there are so many people out there who are willing to help you, but you have to want it for yourself.
Do not feel like you have to know exactly what area of law you want to do, it is okay to explore many areas of the legal field. I have worked in Family law as a Justice Corps Fellow. My first summer at Southwestern Law School, I volunteered as a clerk for Judge Harry Pregerson of the Ninth Circuit and then did a Judicial Externship his chambers. Last summer, I worked on Capitol Hill for Congresswoman Karen Bass and wrote a policy report on issues in the foster care system. I realized that I was not as passionate about the Court of Appeals and working in D.C. on Capitol Hill. So this summer, I am working at a non-profit law firm representing children, so it is okay to move around a bit.
Q. What is your favorite motivational quote?
“A successful [wo]man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life–think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”
– Swami Vivekananda
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
If I can grow up in the foster care system, live in 36 foster homes and attend 26 schools by the time I reached high school, and then graduate from UCLA and complete law school… So can you. Just think of what lights fire in your soul, and work towards it every single day.