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For Candace Williamson ’18, being selected for the Kate Stoneman Scholarship is a tremendous source of pride and motivation.
Kate Stoneman was the first woman to graduate from Albany Law School in 1898. After being rejected from admittance to the Bar due to her gender, she petitioned the legislature to allow women to practice as lawyers and was admitted in 1886, paving the way for all women attorneys in New York State. The Stoneman scholarship is awarded to a student who embodies the pioneering spirit of Kate Stoneman.
“Women are underrepresented in law firms and practices, and this honors the underdog in the legal community,” Williamson said. “It is nice to see Kate Stoneman’s legacy go on each year through this scholarship. I could only hope to leave just a fraction of such an impact on the legal profession, by knocking down gender and ethnic obstacles as Stoneman did.”
On April 3, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the keynote speaker and award recipient at a special Stoneman Day event on campus that was attended by Williamson and other Albany Law School community members.
“It was inspiring to listen to Justice Sotomayor speak. She gave me the extra push to finish the semester and my time at Albany Law strong,” said Williamson. “Even when she ran out of time after her keynote speech she stayed longer to interact with the students. She walked up and down the aisles of the DAMC auditorium, answering questions and taking pictures with students. She even went into the overflow room to talk to people. She was humble and gracious with her time. She exuded the confidence and strength that they say Kate Stoneman demonstrated. You can tell from her courtroom decisions that she is an advocate for bringing justice to people and doing what is right.”
After the event, Williamson attended a dinner at the Fort Orange Club, where she dined with Albany Law School President and Dean Alicia Ouellette and New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the 2016 Stoneman Award recipient.
“It was really nice. We had a private dining area and talked about everything. It was a highlight of the year to sit and talk with such powerful women,” said Williamson.
Williamson interned this spring at the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ’82. Her job in the Governor’s Counsel’s office was a cross between law firm and government work—the experience gave her confidence to say that it is the type of work she wants to do in the future.
“The days never felt boring. Everyone there wears different hats so I gained experience doing a lot of different things. There was a political undertone to the legal matters. It was an interesting time to be in that office,” Williamson said.
Williamson worked heavily on the governor’s clemency project. The governor is the only person in the state who can commute or pardon incarcerated individuals, and Williamson was on the panel that helped present the pardon cases. She also wrote memos for some hot-topic legislative issues, including bathroom laws.
Williamson is from Queens, N.Y. and is a graduate of Catholic University in Washington, D.C.