Skip to main content

City of Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams to deliver Villanova University School of Law’s 2012 Commencement Address May 18

Bronze Star Medal recipient and former Green Beret James J. (J.J.) Williamson VLS ‘12 chosen as student speaker by graduating class

Villanova, Pa. – Villanova University School of Law (VLS) Dean John Y. Gotanda announced that City of Philadelphia District Attorney and current VLS adjunct faculty member R. Seth Williams will address the Class of 2012 as the School’s commencement speaker. James J. (J.J.) Williamson VLS ’12, a Bronze Star Medal recipient and former Green Beret, was chosen by his classmates as the student speaker. The commencement ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. on May 18 in The Pavilion.

Commencement Speaker:

R. Seth Williams became the first African American elected as District Attorney in the history of both the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2009. A native of West Philadelphia, Williams is a graduate of Central High School; Penn State University, where he was President of both the Black Caucus and the Undergraduate Student Government; and Georgetown University Law Center, earning distinction as a Public Interest Law Scholar. He returned to Philadelphia in 1992, continuing his dedication to public service as a member of the Office of the District Attorney.

Highlights of Williams’s 10-year tenure as Assistant District Attorney include his appointment as the Assistant Chief of the Municipal Court and his founding and supervision of the Repeat Offenders Unit. In 2005 he was appointed Inspector General of the City of Philadelphia, a position in which he was responsible for the investigation of allegations of corruption, fraud, waste, abuse and employee misconduct among municipal workers and companies under contract with the city. Following his term as Inspector General, Williams accepted a position as counsel at Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young in 2008.

Williams continues to serve his community as an educator and volunteer. Currently an adjunct professor at VLS, he has also taught at Temple Law School, Neumann College and Penn State Abington.  Williams serves as a Major in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the United States Army Reserve and on the boards of several community organizations, including the Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Overbrook Park Civic Association & Town Watch, St. Cyprian Catholic Church, the St. Martin de Porres Foundation and the West Philadelphia Y.M.C.A.

Student Speaker:

A resident of the Philadelphia-area since 1989, James J. (J.J.) Williamson II attended Archbishop John Carroll High School and then the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY.  After graduating from West Point in 2001, Williamson was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, serving in Baghdad and Fallujah, Iraq (2004-2005) as a platoon leader, battery executive officer and assistant battalion operations officer for 3-82 Field Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division.  After returning to the United States at the completion of his deployment, Williamson was selected to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course, and in 2006 was awarded the Green Beret.  As a Captain, he served as a Special Forces Detachment Commander in Afghanistan (2007-2008) for Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) 3214, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).  Following his deployment, Williamson served as a company executive officer and a battalion assistant operations officer for 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). He left the Army in 2009 at the rank of Captain, returning to the Philadelphia-area to attend Villanova University School of Law.  In 2011, Williamson was named the Editor-in-Chief of Volume 57 of the Villanova Law Review

Williamson’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Bronze Star for Service (2 OLC), the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals, the NATO Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.  Following graduation, Williamson will serve as a judicial clerk to Judge William Yohn, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and afterwards will join the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. He lives in Ardmore with his wife and two children.

Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. The Villanova University School of Law provides broad-based legal education and its award-winning clinics and Lawyering Together Program provide free legal aid to those in need. The School is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the American Association of Law Schools. Notable alumni include:  Hon. Edward Rendell (Former Governor, Pa.), Hon. Marjorie Rendell (Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit), Richard Trumka (President, AFL-CIO), Joseph T. Sebastianelli (President and CEO, Thomas Jefferson Health Systems), Jeffrey S. Moorad (Vice Chairman, San Diego Padres) and Michael Holston (Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Hewlett-Packard Company).