Lockport city attorney joins council to study bullying in legal profession

Sonni Choi Williams

A city attorney for Lockport has been named to an advisory council for a statewide initiative to research the prevalence of bullying in the legal profession and how to prevent it.

Sonni Choi Williams joins 21 other legal professionals on the advisory council for the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.

The council is part of a statewide initiative from the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism prevalence and impact of bulling in the legal profession and come up with the best practices for preventing It, according to a July 13 announcement from 2Civility, a website for the commission.

Williams said she is honored to serve on the council.

“One of the issues I hold near and dear to my heart is making sure all attorneys are professional,” Williams said.

She said the council will get out a survey to receive feedback from attorneys who’ve been victim by bullying in their legal careers.

“In the profession, bullying should not be a rite of passage,” Williams said.

She said neither the justice system nor clients are served well by attorneys who berate others and create a hostile environment.

“The attorneys who are bullies, they don’t realize it actually bogs the system down,” Williams said.

The advisory council will provide “thought leadership and guidance” in the creation of a survey and focus groups on the issue, as well as review and comment on a draft report, according to 2Civility.

The survey and focus groups are expected to be administered later this year. A final report will be publicly issued next year. Williams said the report will not be requesting or recommending any Supreme Court rule changes.

Williams said she will lead the Illinois State Bar Association as its president in 2024.

Williams and her family emigrated from South Korea. She said when she was growing up, her parents owned a small business and had an attorney whom she felt had a lack of awareness toward them because they were immigrants.

“I didn’t see people who look like me being an attorney,” Williams said.

She thought about whether she wanted to become a business attorney, prosecutor or public defender before she ended up falling in love with municipal law, she said.

Williams was a city attorney for Peoria for more than 17 years before she joined Lockport in 2017.

Williams has also worked as an assistant public defender in Tazewell County, an associate attorney for Dick L. Williams and Associates, and as a traffic prosecutor intern for the Tazewell County State’s Attorney, according to the City of Lockport’s website.