Skip to Main Content
Printer Friendly Home > About > People > Board of Directors

Paul Williams, JD

Position: Board Member
Affiliation: Chicago Managing Partner - Major, Lindsey & Africa
paul williams

Paul Williams is the Chicago Managing Partner for Major, Lindsey & Africa, the nation’s largest legal recruiting firm. He specializes in senior-level searches for large corporate clients, particularly General Counsel searches. Based in Chicago but supporting all of MLA’s offices, Paul also leads the firm's efforts throughout the country in assisting corporate legal departments and law firms in enhancing their diversity. He joined the Board of PHR in 2011.

Paul’s late grandfather was a porter at Grand Central Terminal. His father, who passed away earlier this year, was a distinguished physician and a pioneer in the racial integration of medical schools in the South (at Howard), and then was a founder of Drew University of Medicine in Watts/LA, where he was on the board and a major philanthropist (he was a radiologist but invested with Warren Buffett). Their lives inspire and motivate Paul, who has served on numerous charitable and educational boards, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Columbus Academy, the Salesian Boys and Girls Club, and the Arthritis Foundation. His favorite quote: “To serve others well is to truly live.”

Prior to joining Major, Lindsey & Africa, Paul served for several years as Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of Cardinal Health, Inc., a healthcare services company with $80 billion in revenues and 55,000 employees. Responsible for managing legal affairs globally, he also served as the co-chairman of the company's Diversity Council. His 51-lawyer legal department was recognized for its outstanding diversity, receiving the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s “Employer of Choice” award. Additionally, Black Enterprise Magazine recognized Paul in 2003 as one of the nation’s top African-American lawyers.

His career began as an associate with the large law firms of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Southern California and Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease in Ohio. At both firms he specialized in corporate and securities law and was actively involved in the recruiting and summer associate programs. Paul also served as General Counsel of a computer software company and Group Counsel for the dairy division of a multinational corporation.

Paul serves as a member of the board of directors of three public companies having market caps exceeding $1 billion: State Auto Financial Corporation, a property and casualty insurance company; Bob Evans Farms, Inc., the owner and operator of nearly 700 restaurants in the US; and Compass Minerals, Inc., a producer of salt and other inorganic mineral products. Paul serves as State Auto’s Lead Independent Director and chairs the Compensation Committees of State Auto and Bob Evans Farms. He also is a member of the Audit and Nominating and Governance Committees of State Auto, and the Audit Committee of Compass Minerals. 

Paul graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1981. He received his JD from Yale Law School in 1984. He has also completed Stanford Business School's Executive Education Program in Finance and Accounting.