Minneapolis (5-20-04): -- The Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) is pleased to announce George Williams as the 2004 recipient of the Advancement of Justice Award. Presentation of the award was made May 20 at the HCBA Annual Meeting.
The Advancement of Justice Award is the only award given by the HCBA to recognize the work of a non-lawyer. The award is given to an individual or agency in recognition of contributions toward improving the administration of justice, achieving freedom through law, or increasing the public’s understanding of the legal profession and justice system.
The award was given to Mr. Williams in recognition of his work as a volunteer for the Hennepin County Guardian ad Litem office. Guardian ad Litems work on behalf of children who are wards of the state to represent their best interests in court. Volunteers learn about how the legal system places children who have been removed from their homes, and monitor how the children respond to their new settings. The volunteers then report these findings to the court and advocate on each child's behalf.
Mr. Williams became a Guardian ad Litem volunteer in March 1997 and has since represented 24 children, working closely with attorneys and county staff. Without volunteers such as Mr. Williams, these abandoned children might not achieve the access to justice and fair representation they deserve.
Mr. Williams, however, goes well beyond the regular responsibilities of a Guardian ad Litem. He devotes countless hours to making sure these children are properly cared for, and that they have a clear understanding of how the legal system is working on their behalf. Mr. Williams has taken children to medical and therapy appointments, attended teacher conferences, and court and social worker meetings. Williams also devotes additional time to the children to make sure they feel encouraged and supported.
Sonia Miller-Van Oort, an attorney at Flynn Gaskins & Bennett, says that she has never seen "a Guardian ad Litem so devoted, so thorough, and so about conscientious of his role. George [Williams] is the ideal role model for any Guardian ad Litem. Thanks to George, the abandoned children he represents understand and believe that the legal system has at least one kind face that cares about their interests and is fighting for an appropriate placement or outcome on their behalf."
Mr. Williams is a Twin Cities native and graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in 1954. He served as a Dental Officer in the Air Force and then returned to Minneapolis and practiced dentistry, eventually establishing his own office in Bloomington. He retired from Dentistry after 40 years of practice. Mr. Williams currently resides in Bloomington with his wife of 23 years, Patricia.
While many retirees may decide that retirement is a time for relaxation, Mr. Williams is instead actively volunteering on behalf of Hennepin County children, aiding with the advancement of justice in our community.
The Hennepin County Bar Association, the largest of Minnesota's 21 county bar associations and representing almost half of Minnesota's attorneys, is a private, non-profit organization which provides or supports many free or low-cost services to the public including: Volunteer Lawyers Network which provide free legal advice for low income people; TEL-LAW, a legal information message system available at no charge in local calling areas; Lawyer Referral and Information Services; public education programming; and financial grants through the Bar Foundation.