For years, Stephen Williams has provided legal services to underserved communities.
Today’s latest trends of chasing followers and clout (the new-age word for popularity) has made it easier to see someone for only their accomplishments or the finer things they’ve acquired and assume their life has always been that way. When we look at attorney Stephen Williams that could seem to be the case, as he is living “the American dream” as a husband and father of two in his 16th year of practicing law and the second year running his own firm.
Williams is full of life and overflows with love and kindness, but many don’t know the trials he’s endured or the school to which Williams attributes his successes. Here’s the inside scoop.
As a native of Kansas City, Missouri, United Sates, and second-generation Seventh-day Adventist, Williams has spent the past two decades of his life providing legal representation for underserved communities while trying to bridge the gap between seeking justice and actually experiencing it. Since the start of his career, he’s served as a youth federation president, school board president, youth leader and community service director at his church (Linwood Seventh-day Adventist Temple), a board member for numerous nonprofit organizations, and has been a phenomenal community mentor.
This kind of love “takes a village” to cultivate and harvest. Williams acknowledges that from when he was very young, the keys to his successes came from his village, which consisted of home, church, and, most notably, V. Lindsay Seventh-Day Adventist School.
For many children, home, church, and school are three very separate entities. But for many Adventist children and especially children who, like Williams, are born to pastors, those life elements have a lot of overlap.
Contrary to what it may seem, children only spend around 13 percent of their waking hours in school by age 18, according to the Parent Institute. This suggests that children learn some of their most important lessons at home, lessons that families teach best.
The Influence of a School
What happens when your school environment is both like a family and church environment? In Williams’s case, the answer is relentless resilience that leads to physical, mental, and spiritual victories.
“Having matriculated through various institutions of learning — that is to say, majority institutions, Christian colleges, international programs, and the mecca of HBCU’s Howard School of Law — my experience has been that there was always a teacher or maybe two who saw something in me and invested in me,” Williams said. “However, during my eight years at V. Lindsay, I was not only poured into by one or two teachers; I was poured into by every staff member there.”
He added, “Further, they didn’t pour into me because I was special; they poured into me because that was the culture and expectation that V. Lindsay held and still holds today. Frankly, I’ve always felt that I was an average student with an above average support system. I champion V. Lindsay because I’m still grateful for what it gave me, and I want other students and families to have the same experience.”
Williams said that V. Lindsay taught him life lessons that still benefit him. For instance, “that your value is not connected to your accomplishments,” he said. “Believe it or not, people have doubted my ability to reach my goals my entire life, except for my time at V. Lindsay. Some doubters are harmless and quiet, but with others, the doubt is harmful and loud; all of it heightens the pressure to succeed. In college there were those who didn’t think I’d be admitted into law school, pass the bar, and become an attorney. As an attorney, I’ve had supervisors who didn’t think I was smart enough, clients who didn’t think I was tough enough, lawyers and judges who simply didn’t think I had what it takes to represent multi-million-dollar organizations in trial.”
Williams added that at V. Lindsay, despite his circumstances, behavior, grades, attitude, and accomplishments or failures, “I was always treated in a way that made me feel like I was enough.
“With this level of confidence and self-awareness, I am capable of facing the daily haters and doubt and remain resilient in times of defeat and humble in moments of victory,” he said. “I believe the same lesson about people’s value is what led me to become a public defender and why community service is more of a lifestyle choice than a one-off event for me. I strongly believe that we are all more than our current circumstances, and I’m grateful to have been taught that at V. Lindsay.”
A Special Sponsorship
In 2022, V. Lindsay school hosted its first-annual Back 2 School Bash, sponsored by the Law Office of Stephen R. Williams, LLC. True to himself and his passion for people, children, and his alma mater, Williams desired to commemorate his one-year anniversary of having his own firm by sponsoring this event. Together, he and the school’s principal, Jessica Jacobs, and nearly 30 other vendors and volunteers hosted a phenomenal three-hour event with live music, bounce houses, water slides, a petting zoo, dunk tanks, free food, and, best of all, nearly 150 pairs of brand-new shoes given to V. Lindsay students and children in the surrounding community children in kindergarten to fourth grade — with the help of some new friends at the Target retail store.
Many alumni came from near and far to show their support for the school. “The tenacity, perseverance, high energy, and confidence gained at V. Lindsay has multi-generational results,” leaders said.
The original version of this story was posted on the Mid-America Union Conference Outlook.