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2012-06-01 12:49:12 PM
James Williams, 28, deputy county counsel
Santa Clara County
Williams argued and won a high-stakes redevelopment case before the California Supreme Court and has held significant civic and statewide responsibilities, all within the first two years of practice. In California Redevelopment Association v. Matosantos, he convinced the court that Assembly Bill X1 26 was constitutional. Implemented earlier this year, this legislation requires dissolution of California's 400 redevelopment agencies and is expected to redirect more than $5 billion in property taxes to the state's general fund each year. Williams remains the state's expert on this new law, guiding public officials and others through the dissolution process and ensuring enforcement by oversight boards and audits. Williams also played a key role in two multimillion-dollar settlements favoring Santa Clara County. He even contributed to the case Astra USA v. Santa Clara County, a challenge to a major pharmaceutical manufacturer's pricing methods that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
Word that best describes you?
Toughest moment in law school or as a lawyer?
When I lost a case I argued before the Ninth Circuit as a 3L. This loss was particularly discouraging because I was arguing on behalf of a Native American tribe. Many tribe members had ridden the bus for hours to be at the hearing, and the oral argument appeared to go very well. It was a difficult outcome for the tribe, which had such high hopes after hearing the argument.
A lawyer you admire?
There are many, but a critical one in my own life is David Silberman, deputy county counsel for San Mateo County, a devoted public servant and exceptional attorney. David introduced me as a 1L to the world of county counsel, trusted me with major projects, and dedicated considerable time and effort to mentor me throughout law school and beyond.
Hours you work per week?
Sixty to 70.
A trial or deal you wish you could have worked on?
There are many, but Loving v. Virginia is one that I would have wanted to work on because I cannot imagine my own marriage not being legal.