Byron Williams

Honorary Doctorate

Byron Williams


Honorary Doctor of Laws

Byron Williams is a committed and talented public interest lawyer who has spent more than two decades championing the rights of Manitoba’s most vulnerable citizens. As director of the unique Public Interest Law Centre within Legal Aid Manitoba, Williams has developed an expertise in public interest test case litigation — especially in the areas of human rights and poverty, and in environmental, consumer, and Indigenous law.

His victories change lives. In large part as a result of his successful challenges, Manitoba now has among the lowest payday loan rates in Canada; same sex couples are able to adopt; and the federal government broadened the definition of family for compassionate employment insurance care benefits. He accomplishes these feats by bringing together highly qualified experts and grassroots community organizations to form effective teams. Often, he is facing some of the largest and best-resourced organizations in Manitoba. Williams is energized by this challenge.

He is also actively engaged with The University of Winnipeg. Williams regularly invites faculty members to act as expert witnesses on diverse topics ranging from economics and geography to international development studies and environmental studies and sciences. These opportunities enable faculty members to apply their knowledge to practical regulatory and policy issues, and to engage with community groups outside the University.

He has been a guest lecturer on campus, and for the past six years, an instructor of Poverty and the Law in the Urban and Inner-city Studies department. Students in this course credit his teaching with a broadened understanding of the legal system as an effective tool for social change. He is a dedicated mentor who has helped and hired many UWinnipeg students as research assistants and interns.

Williams serves on several community boards, and in 2013, received the first Richard J. Scott Award from the Law Society of Manitoba, for advancing the rule of law through advocacy, litigation, teaching, and research.

For his tireless and humble pursuit of social justice on behalf of all Manitobans, The University of Winnipeg awards Byron Williams an Honorary Doctor of Laws.