Adjunct Professor of Law
Policy Director and Special Counsel, California Senate President pro Tempore, Darrell Steinberg
Director of Appointments, California Senate Rules Committee
B.A., University of California, Davis
M.P.P., Harvard Kennedy School
J.D., University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
Anthony Williams is policy director for the current president pro tem, Sen. Darrell Steinberg. He also is an adjunct professor at Pacific McGeorge School of Law, teaching Legislative Process, Strategy and Ethics.
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.
Williams now is policy director for the current president pro tem, Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a position he's held since 2012. He also is an adjunct professor at Pacific 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.
At the Capitol, Williams oversees all bills considered by the Senate and helps shape them in a way that is acceptable to the Senate Democratic Caucus. Williams oversees about a dozen policy experts who also develop legislation themselves for introduction by Steinberg. He also monitors and helps to shape bills that others write. In addition to being the main liaison in any negotiations between the Senate, the Assembly and the governor, he writes legislation and leads bill negotiations with others, including legislative counsel, lobbyists, agencies and committee consultants.
Williams returned to the Senate because he felt it was the best way he could help the greatest number of people. "Knowing that you're involved at the ground level in the development of California law that will impact a lot of people — it's exciting and it's rewarding. And it's also a challenge to make sure you try to get it right."
Courses: Legislative Process, Strategy & Ethics