Spartan Lawyer Summer 2018


“Detroit needs talent to stay. If you’re from the city and you love it and you believe in it, take what you learn, take the skills that you build, and bring them back to the city. Give back to a city that’s given so much to you.”

Justin Williams, ’15, Inclusive Growth Program and Policy, Manager, Capital Impact Partners

Justin Williams’ connection to Detroit runs deep. He grew up in Oak Park, just minutes outside of the city; his mother is a born-and-raised Detroiter; and his father has been in the city for more than 20 years and even started his own law firm there.

As Williams reached adulthood, he felt a sense of duty to give back to the city. Upon receiving his Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law in 2015, he returned to Detroit with a goal: to use his legal education and refined skills as a problem solver to make an impact.

“I owe the city a lot in terms of the experiences I’ve had in it and the opportunities that it’s afforded me throughout my life. I grew up in this place. I became who I am because of my connection to the city,” said Williams.

Williams currently manages a program called the Equitable Development Initiative that is designed to raise the level of minority developers in Detroit. His position is the result of his status as a Detroit Revitalization Fellow, which is awarded to mid-career professionals who are in impactmaking roles at organizations across the city.

“I am excited to be in a position to give people the things they always should’ve had. That’s what rings my bell and gets me up every day,” said Williams.

Williams’ work enables him to advocate for the people in his community who deserve their own place in Detroit’s future. He encourages Spartan lawyers from Detroit to “c lose the loop” and come full circle back to the city.

And when he’s not supporting community development, he and his wife, Brandis, are busy with their personal hometown legacy: their twin baby girls, Kendall and Taylor.