2017 Rod Boggs Award

Thomas S. Williamson Jr. 

Awarded Posthumously

Thomas S. Williamson’s career was characterized by a deep commitment to equal justice, civil rights, and diversity in the legal profession. Mr. Williamson’s work with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee began on his arrival at Covington & Burling LLP in 1974 and continued throughout his 40-year legal career. He served as lead counsel in some of the Committee's most notable cases, including federal and private sector employment class actions, and disability rights matters.

For more than 20 years, Mr. Williamson played a leadership role on the Committee’s Board. He was Co-Chair from 1990 to1991 and guided the Committee through the creation of a new program to protect immigrants’ rights. During his tenure, he helped lead the Committee to increase employment discrimination litigation developed through paired testing. The Washington Lawyers’ Committee recognized Mr. Williamson with its Wiley A. Branton Award in 2007.

Mr. Williamson’s impact is best reflected in the remembrances of those who worked with him:

To say that Tom Williamson was a consummate lawyer, advocate and friend of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee would be an understatement. As a trusted advisor and lead counsel in some the Committee’s most challenging and significant cases over four decades, Tom’s contributions to our organization and its clients were profound.  That he accomplished all of this with exceptional grace, intellect and humor are among the reasons he embodies the finest qualities we could imagine for a pro bono attorney.

- Rod Boggs

“His style was low-key and even self-effacing but his lawyering was always outstanding. His legal strategy was often subtly aggressive and even hard-hitting.   Even more striking to me, however, was his exceptional judgment, his genuine wisdom, both as a lawyer and an as a human being, and his recognition of the potential consequences of either success or failure in civil rights litigation.”

- Thomas Brunner, Wiley Rein LLP


“When I was General Counsel of the Equal Rights Center, he took on representation of the ERC in a sensitive matter that could have become a powder keg.  Tom calmly and professionally helped us defuse the situation and resolve the matter amicably.  An organization like the Washington Lawyers’ Committee cannot have enough wise men and women like Tom to steer its course.”

- George D. Ruttinger, Crowell & Moring LLP

“I first met Tom more than 40 years ago, and immediately knew that he was extraordinary in every way. An immensely capable lawyer and the embodiment of the professionalism, dedication, commitment to excellence, and civility to which as lawyers we should all strive to achieve.”

– Roger E. Warin, Steptoe & Johnson LLP

The Board and staff of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs are deeply saddened by Mr. Williamson’s death earlier this year, and honored to posthumously grant him the inaugural Rod Boggs Award for his lifetime commitment to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, its clients, and its values.

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