Two ABF Life Fellows have been honored by the Washington State Bar Association’s 2021 APEX Awards, James F. Williams and the late William H. Gates, Sr. The “Acknowledging Professional Excellence” Awards are designed to honor the contributions of the Washington legal community’s most pivotal members. Mr. Williams received the Justice Charles Z. Smith Excellence in Diversity Award, while Mr. Gates received the posthumous Lifetime Service Award.
James Williams is a seasoned litigator with many successful victories under his belt, most notably Wilbur v. City of Mt. Vernon, which he won in favor of indigent communities who were not receiving their Sixth Amendment right to counsel. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Mr. Williams is a managing partner for Perkins Coie’s Seattle office, whose other leadership experiences include representing Washington on the ABA House of Delegates, chairing the Washington State Bar Association Leadership Institute, and serving as the Loren Miller Bar Association board president. He has worked on committees and advisory panels for organizations such as the ACLU of Washington, the Ninth District U.S. Court of Appeals, and the American Law Institute, and he spent fifteen years working with Treehouse, a nonprofit that provides resources to mistreated children in foster care.
William Gates, Sr. was internationally known as Bill Gates’ father and a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair who spearheaded the organization’s global health efforts. Locally, however, Mr. Gates was regarded as a pillar of the Washington legal community. He was a founding member of K&L Gates, one of the first firms to represent clients in the then-burgeoning Seattle tech scene, and a president of the King County Bar Association, Washington State Bar Association, and National Conference of Bar Presidents. He served on the University of Washington Board of Regents, where he obtained his J.D., and the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Gates represented Washington on the ABA House of Delegates, and received the ABA Medal in 2009.