Student Spotlight: Joan Williams

By: Sarah Patarino

“For who much is given, much is required.”

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Meet Joan Williams. Accountant. Education enthusiast. Nearly completed law student.

Joan completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Joan then went on to receive a Master’s in Education from Northwestern University. Joan decided to attend law school as a way to complement her background.

“I am a CPA and spent most of my career focused on audit and financial compliance matters,” Joan said. “I wanted to transition my career a bit to deal with broader compliance matters, not just financial issues. I knew that law school would complement my existing background and assist in the career transition.”

Along with Joan’s impressive background, her unique level of experience allowed her to truly make a difference in the clinic. Her full-time work gave her an edge that completed the experience for her.

“Loyola’s Life After Innocence program has definitely enhanced the empathy that I have for others,” Joan said. “The clinical experience taught me to listen to others more attentively and to really hear what others are saying. I knew I wanted to work in the clinic, but I was not sure if my schedule would permit participation since I work full time and am a part time student. I am glad that my schedule this semester allowed me to participate. There were many nuggets of wisdom shared by exonerees during LAI classes and events.”

As the clinic benefited from Joan’s expertise, Joan also found the work to be a rewarding part of her time at Loyola.

“I started law school in the part time cohort with Jarrett Adams, who was an exoneree,” Joan said. “I later took the Wrongful Convictions course, which provide a compelling legal and social perspective on the issues affecting exonerees. The ability to assist exonerees with current life matters is rewarding,” Joan said. “You know the work that you are doing has an immediate impact on their lives. The skills and abilities I have are not just to benefit me, but to serve others.”

After Joan graduates Loyola in December, she hopes to work in a less traditional field of law by working with a not-for-profit.

“My career aspirations do not include a traditional law trajectory,” Joan said. “I want to assist not-for-profits deal with their business and legal matters. My ideal career would include being a compliance officer at a not-for-profit/higher education institution.”

LAI is proud to have been a part of Joan’s legal career and wishes her the best future. Joan herself looks back at her time at Loyola as a mix of moments that led her to where she is today.

“As I reflect upon my time at Loyola, there are mixed emotions,” Joan said. “Law school has been bittersweet. My father passed away after my first year, but my son was born in my last year. I will be the first person on either side of my family to graduate with a law degree. Outside of a stellar legal education, I am most appreciative of the people that I met. The faculty, staff, and students have added tremendous value to my legal education and experience. They have also made the personal life transitions easier to cope with.”

LAI would like to offer its sincerest congratulations and gratitude to Joan for all of her hard work. We look forward to the insightful work she will do in the future.

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