March 22, 2016
When an opportunity arose in 1999 to work for Sen. John Burton, then president pro tempore of the California Senate, Anthony Williams, '05, took it. Williams says he emphasized during the interview to Burton that unlike his predecessor, he wasn't a lawyer. That didn't seem to be a problem.
A few weeks later, the California Supreme Court ruled that parts of a bill that Burton had written were unconstitutional. Burton was furious, Williams says, and called him into his office. "He had the opinion in his hand and thrust it at me and said, 'I want you to fix this.'" That moment was the impetus for Williams to apply to law school.
When he lived in Sacramento, Williams served as policy director for the former president pro tem, Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a position he held from 2012-2014. He also was an adjunct professor at McGeorge School of Law, teaching Legislative Process, Strategy and Ethics since 2007.
Williams always loved politics and government. He graduated from UC Davis with a bachelor's degree in political science and completed a yearlong fellowship at the Capitol after college. During the program, Williams admired the attorneys he saw and was impressed with their ability to influence public policy.
He enrolled in a joint-degree program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government
and Harvard Law School. But after a summer clerking in a law firm, he discovered he
didn't enjoy the mundane nature of the tasks assigned to first-year law clerks. So
he refocused his efforts on public policy.
After graduating from the Kennedy School, Williams spent nearly five years working for the Judicial Council for the state, focusing on budget issues and labor relations. After Burton waved the court decision in his hand, Williams decided his first instinct about lawyers was right. He applied to McGeorge and attended at night while continuing to work for Burton on criminal justice, judiciary, banking and consumer privacy issues.
During his time at McGeorge, Williams also worked as chief lobbyist for the State Bar of California. After he graduated, he and fellow graduate Jennifer Wada, '05, opened a law and lobbying firm, Wada Williams Law Group LLP, where he did both trial work and lobbying. He later left that position to work for Steinberg.
While at the Capitol, Williams oversaw all bills considered by the Senate and helped shape them in a way that was acceptable to the Senate Democratic Caucus. In addition to being the main liaison in any negotiations between the Senate, the Assembly and the governor, he wrote legislation and leads bill negotiations with others, including legislative counsel, lobbyists, agencies and committee consultants.
Williams was hired at the Boeing Company as the Director of Government Relations in September 2014, in Seal Beach, California. He was appointed to the California Fish and Game Commission in June 2015.