MacArthur Fellows Program

Patricia J. Williams

Legal Scholar | Class of 2000

Legal Scholar
New York, New York
49 at time of award
Published July 1, 2000

About Patricia's Work

Patricia Williams is an interdisciplinary legal scholar who approaches issues of law and social justice in novel ways.

Williams’s work has fostered a new form of legal writing and scholarship that integrates personal narrative, critical and literary theory, traditional legal doctrine, and empirical and sociological research.  Throughout her career, her essays and columns have challenged cultural constructs of race and gender.  Her highly regarded first book, The Alchemy of Race and Rights: A Diary of a Law Professor (1991), is an autobiographical work that illuminates some of America’s most complex problems.  Williams’s other books include The Rooster’s Egg: On the Persistence of Prejudice (1995), Seeing a Color-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race (1997), and Open House: Of Family, Friends, Food, Piano Lessons, and the Search for a Room of My Own (2004).  She is also a regular columnist for The Nation.


Williams is the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University.  She taught previously at Golden Gate University, at Queens College, CUNY, and at the University of Wisconsin.  She also served as a deputy city attorney in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and as a staff attorney for the Western Center on Law and Poverty in Los Angeles.

Williams received a B.A. (1972) from Wellesley College and a J.D. (1975) from Harvard University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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