Q&A with David Williams

David B.H. Williams is a member of the CARPLS Board of Directors and the former President. He is also the founding member and managing partner of Williams, Bax & Saltzman, P.C.

How did you come to join CARPLS?

Sean Gallagher is a good friend of mine from law school days, and he had been an active CARPLS Board Member. He invited me to CARPLS’ annual Golden Gavel event, maybe close to 15 years ago, and that was my first introduction to CARPLS.

I became very interested in the organization and he followed up. We had lunch with Al Schwartz, the Executive Director, and pretty soon thereafter, I was invited to join the Board.

I was Board President for a couple of years, and now I’m leading the development committee. CARPLS is full of people feeling passionate about the great work being done by the organization. Titles are sort of irrelevant within the Board. Everyone feels strongly and passionately about the organization.

What are some projects you’ve worked on?

At the Board level, we work strategically and help with the fundraising. What I see as truly rewarding is when there’s a complicated issue in the legal community that involves the use of technology and a large scale project, CARPLS is frequently the first place that the legal aid community looks to in addressing that issue.

IL-AFLAN comes to mind, which is our legal aid hotline for veterans. The intake process and figuring out how to connect the right people with the right internal resources or refer out potential clients to other legal aid organizations. The team led by Al Schwartz and Pat Wrona is really strong. CARPLS staff give clients a plan to work through the legal problem in a thoughtful way. And so that feeling of being overwhelmed and helpless is replaced with an action plan that they’re working against, which really can be the difference between giving up hope and saying, ‘I can do this. This is going to be okay.’ And you see that from the testimonials from our clients. There is simply a lack of accessibility and legal resources. But CARPLS is fantastic in bridging that gap. CARPLS really fills a void.

What is your hope for CARPLS for the next 30 years?

I would hope that they continue to be a leader on the intersection of legal services and technology. We’re constantly thinking, ‘how do we stay out at the forefront of technology?’ Providing legal aid services that’s actually productive for the client and efficient so that donors feel like supporting CARPLS with their dollars, and the mission is being served.