Amanda Williams defies the statistics of the legal world. In an industry where women comprise only 21 percent of partnership positions at firms, she made partner at Gustafson Gluek less than a decade after graduating law school. In a male-dominated plaintiff’s bar, she has tried cases at the state and federal level and has been recognized by Super Lawyers three years in a row. And in a legal culture that thrives on seriousness, she’s not afraid to laugh at herself.
Williams is constantly learning about new types of businesses in her practice with class action plaintiffs. “You kind of become an expert in some things. For a while I was doing a lot of heart device cases, so towards the end I felt like I could diagnose you with a heart problem,” she said with a laugh.
Williams currently sits on the HCBA board of directors as a liaison between the association and Minnesota Women Lawyers. She first became involved with the MWL Scholarship Committee and then moved on to become the liaison to the HCBA.
“MWL's mission is something that I care greatly about. I have managed to get folks more interested and involved,” she said. She’s especially proud of the fact that her firm is in the “100% Club" with the MWL, where every female lawyer at the firm is a member of the organization.
Williams acknowledged that there have been challenges that have accompanied her professional successes along the way. “I think as a woman coming into this practice, or this lifestyle, I was naive. I thought that everything was kind of great meritocracy. I quickly came to realize that's not how the world works,” she said.
Being involved with the HCBA and Minnesota Women Lawyers has provided Williams with insight in how to navigate the legal world. She has appreciated the assistance she received from other lawyers in her career, so she relished the chance to give back through different bar association groups.
“I think having other women and men who are happy to talk to you about the world, where you can share your experiences and go back and forth and learn from each other, has real big benefits,” she said.
Williams has pragmatic advice for new attorneys: you can never be too prepared for a case. “Always being prepared is important. No task is too small, they all matter,” she said.
Even though there are big challenges facing women in the legal field, Williams doesn’t seem too daunted by the statistics. She takes a very results-focused approach to her job, "There's always a solution. Find a solution. If it's a little problem, you can figure it out, if it's a big problem you can figure it out. It might take some time, but you can find a solution.”