Patricia J. Williams writes the monthly “Diary of a Mad Law Professor” for the Nation magazine. Her wry, witty columns cover broad issues of social justice, including the rhetoric of the war on terror, race, ethnicity, gender, all aspects of civil rights law, bioethics and eugenics, forensic uses of DNA, and comparative issues of class and culture in the US, France, and Britain.
Williams is the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University School of Law. A graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard Law School, she has served on faculties at the University of Wisconsin School of Law, Harvard University’s Women’s Studies Program, and the City University of New York Law School at Queen’s College. As a law professor, she has testified before congress, acted as a consultant and coordinator for a variety of public interest lawsuits, and served as a past member of the boards of the Center for Constitutional Rights, of the Society of American Law Teachers, and of the Nation Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. She is the recipient of the Alumnae Achievement Award from Wellesley, the Graduate Society Medal from Harvard, and the MacArthur foundation “genius” grant.
Before entering academia, she practiced law, as a consumer advocate and Deputy City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles, and as a staff attorney for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
With an appreciation and support for multiculturalism and civil rights, she sits on several boards, including that of Wellesley College and the Andy Warhol Foundation. She has authored numerous articles for scholarly journals and popular magazines and newspapers including USA Today, Harvard Law Review, Tikkun, the New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Ms. magazine, and the Village Voice. Her book, The Alchemy of Race and Rights, was named one of the twenty-five best books of 1991 by the Voice Literary Supplement and one of the “feminist classics of the last twenty years” that “literally changed women’s lives,” by Ms. magazine’s Twentieth Anniversary Edition. Her newest book is titled Open House: Of Family, Friends, Food, Piano Lessons, and a Search for a Room of My Own – personal collection of stories, essays, anecdotes, and biography.
She has appeared on a variety of radio and television shows and has been a keynote speaker at numerous conferences. She has served as a guest commentator for a number of radio stations; and has served as a program consultant to Channel 13 and to Wisconsin Public Radio. She has also served as a consultant and coordinator for a variety of public interest lawsuits. She has appeared in a number of documentary films, including That Rush! which she wrote and narrated. Directed by British filmmaker Isaac Julian, this short study of American talk show hosts was featured as part of an installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London.