Patricia J. Williams (born August 28, 1951) is an American legal scholar and a proponent of critical race theory, a school of legal thought that emphasizes race as a fundamental determinant of the American legal system.
Williams received her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College in 1972, and her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1975. She worked as a consumer advocate in the office of the City Attorney in Los Angeles, was a fellow in the School of Criticism and Theory at Dartmouth College and served as associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School and its department of women's studies. She is currently the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University where she has taught since 1991.
Williams is a member of the State Bar of California and the Bar of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Williams has served on the advisory council for the Medgar Evers College for Law and Social Justice of the City University of New York, the board of trustees of Wellesley College, and on the board of governors for the Society of American Law Teachers, among others.
She was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, which she held from June 2000 until June 2005.
Williams writes a column for The Nation magazine titled "Diary of a Mad Law Professor." Her column for The Nation has recently changed from bi-weekly to monthly. The Mad-Law-Professor (SM) is also the name of a super hero that she created.