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J. Craig Williams ('79)

Attorney and lecturer

Photo: J. Craig Williams

J. Craig Williams never forgot the Madison vice president who taught him the importance of "paying it forward." Dr. Ray Sonner, for whom Sonner Hall is named, made the phone call that helped Williams land his first job. When Williams started his own law practice, he often received resumes from hopeful lawyers who had no chance of getting a job with the practice that focused on complex business litigation and hired no one with less than 10 years of experience. Yet, every "rejection" letter contained an offer from Williams to buy the applicant lunch and discuss his or her future. Williams says probably less than 10 percent of recipients read beyond the first sentence, but those who did sent him wonderful letters about the jobs they eventually got. Today, Williams is a board certified civil trial advocate with Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, LLP, a large international law firm.

"Madison was directly responsible for influencing me to adopt this pay-it-forward philosophy."