Student Profile: A tragedy sparked her interest in a legal career


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

In her youth, Allura Williams lost her aunt—who was like an older sister—to suicide.

“She was being bullied and from that moment on, I made a vow to advocate for those that felt they didn’t have a voice and to make sure everyone felt seen and could be heard,” says Williams, a graduate of University of Detroit Mercy and now a 1L student at Detroit Mercy Law.

“I feel not many people in the community feel as if a role like this is accomplishable for them, and so in addition to being an advocate for others, I hope I’m able to show someone anything is possible and nothing is out of anyone’s reach.”

Williams is enjoying her law school experience, and is the recipient of a Philip J. McElroy Scholarship, awarded in honor of the late, distinguished graduate’s lifelong commitment to education.

 “There are many schools that will tell you ‘We’re like a family,’ but in all my years of higher education, I’ve never seen that most executed like it is at Detroit Mercy and Detroit Mercy Law,” she says. “Before even stepping foot on campus there were administrators that knew my name and cared about my story. Not only do they hold so much care for their students, their small class sizes will allow the learning process to feel more comfortable and tailored to me because of the open discussions that will be had.

“Although it may sound clichéd, I’m extremely excited for the information. I love to absorb information and with the diverse courses that are offered, I’m excited to know more about the way systems truly function.”

Her current legal interests include human rights, tech, trademark, and renewable energy.

“I have many interests of law, but with the help of Detroit Mercy Law I know in time I will have them narrowed down—but for now, I can say I want to focus solely on practice for 5 to 7 years and while still practicing, I want to open a community center for the youth,” she says. “My plan is to not have just summer recreation, but also somewhere for youth to receive additional education year-round with year-round recreation in all types of sports, even those that not many urban youths have the opportunity to experience.”

An alumna of Renaissance High School in Detroit, Williams earned her UDM undergrad degree in political science and philosophy, and pre-law studies, where she learned the proper way of curating legal memos, case briefs terminology and theories, and participated in multiple moot courts, as a lead attorney, judge, and a member of the supreme court.  

Her interest in political science was a need to further policies and laws so they were equal and fair. In middle and high school, her parents placed her in the Michigan Youth in Government program, where students wrote a bill, and amended and voted on each bill as the House of Representatives and the Senate in the manner that it actually occurs.

“Through this program, I was able to foster an understanding of what it’s like to advocate for policy reform and this love followed me to college,” she says. “As president and founder of IGNITE National’s Detroit Mercy Chapter, I was able to spark this same interest in women that were interested in politics and policy but was too timid to fan that flame. We would encourage women of all political backgrounds to use their voice.”

At the time of Williams’s attendance, a serious discussion was taking place about the Pink Tax and taxation of women’s sanitary products.

“Women are taxed 3.5 percent more on products such as socks, underwear, razors,” she says. “My vice president, Diana Price. and I placed sanitary supplies in bathrooms across campus in hopes we could help lighten this load for someone.”

In UDM undergrad, Williams served as president of the Delta-Psi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

“This gave me the opportunity to grow personality-wise, build a sisterhood and create programming for students on campus to feel more included,” she says. “We cleaned parks and held game night food drives and study tables and much more, all while building a better relationship with ourselves and each other.”

Williams worked for three years at Lakeshore Legal Aid, an experience that gave her the opportunity to combine wanting to be a support to a community with her love of the law.

“The team at Lakeshore Legal Aid truly strives to help as many people as it can, and I enjoyed giving my all to the cases each week so that every time someone met with me, they gained something in their favor,” she says. “My team was new and was dedicated solely to eviction in Out-Wayne County, sometimes Oakland if extra hands were needed. We could appear in courts in Wayne County except for Detroit that has its own dedicated team due to its size.

“We would attend the landlord tenant docket in these courts and help clients that were on the verge of eviction through on docket advice, furthering the spread of Housing Assistance Resources and when the case called for it, we would offer full representation. Some of the eviction matters we were able to tend to were repair issues, subsidized housing, illegal lockouts, payment plans, excessive late fees as well as helping clients to get more time to have a favorable resolution. We attended dockets each week and as a team, could pick up anywhere from 10 to 20-plus cases a week. We have assisted clients in 22nd, 29th, 32A, 33rd, 42nd, 46th, and 50th District Court.”

Williams attributes her educational and leadership success in large part to her family.

“My mother, Joanna, always an entrepreneur with big ideas and a big heart. My father, Michael, who has been a skilled journeyman bricklayer for over 30 years and has been a big supporter of mine. And lastly my older brother, Michael, who set the bar, now a Level 3 chemist and my younger sister, Meadeux, that I try to set an example for, and who is in the top of her class at Renaissance High School.”

Williams, who enjoys art and movies in her leisure time, finds time to serve as a latchkey aide at Gesu Catholic School and also is heavily involved in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, where she has taken part in leadership conferences and a Christian Educational Conference.

“I believe that having a village to support you and show you the way is the key to a great foundation and that’s what the AME church has done to me,” she says. “Introduced to me by my late grandmother Ada Williams, the AME church is welcoming, warm and a backbone to all who seek. The Young People’s Division of the Women’s Missionary Society provided me a space to breathe when I felt overwhelmed. Through service every year, we’re able to touch the lives of so many people in need as well as connecting youths with others also in relationship with God. We participate in events like Miracle League, soup kitchens, Arts and Scraps, UNICEF, World Reading Day, and host others of our own creation like African Storytelling, Statewide Spelling Bee, and Donating books to Children’s Hospitals in Michigan.

“Currently, in the YPD I hold the title of Conference President, meaning I reside over all local church YPDs in Michigan. My director, executive board, and I work together to create events that will be impactful to bettering the community as well as giving youths a chance to fellowship amongst each other.”

A lifelong resident of Detroit, Williams is passionate about her home city.

“The Motor City is the City of Dreams and Culture!” she says. “We foster new music styles, modes of transportation, State Supreme Court justices, exquisite and unique food, art, avenues of architecture, and most importantly, we harbor love in abundance. Everyone here wants to see each other succeed and so we support each other like no other city will.”


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