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Warren Family Establishes $50,000 Gift at UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law

Judge Joyce Williams Warren
Judge Joyce Williams Warren

The family of retired Judge Joyce Williams Warren recently established a $50,000 gift to create the Judge Joyce Williams Warren Jurist-in-Residence Fellowship at UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.

The gift, pledged by Judge Warren’s husband, James M. “Butch” Warren, is intended to attract a working or retired judge to spend a semester at the Bowen School of Law as a fellow, teaching a course relating to his or her expertise, and organizing events to educate students and alumni focusing on a question of law related to the role of the Arkansas judiciary, or in an area of juvenile law.

“A multitude of honors have been bestowed upon my wife, Joyce, to celebrate her amazing legal career,” said Butch Warren. “I’ve often wondered how I could also honor her — and Bowen presented this opportunity to establish a jurist-in-residence fellowship in her honor. I am blessed to honor Joyce, the love of my life, in a way that will benefit others and add to all of the other ‘firsts’ she has accomplished.”

The legacy he speaks of is an extensive one as Judge Warren is one of the most decorated graduates in the history of the Bowen School of Law. In 1976, she became the institution’s first Black female graduate, and in 1977, she became the first Black law clerk for the Arkansas Supreme Court serving Associate Justice Darrell Hickman. In October of that year, Judge Warren began serving as an assistant attorney general to former President Bill Clinton, the state’s attorney general at the time. In 1983, Judge Warren became the first Black female judge in the state when Pulaski County Judge Don Venhaus appointed her to serve as a juvenile court judge.

Continuing with her legacy of many firsts, Judge Warren is the first jurist to have an official jurist-in-residence fellowship program established at the William H. Bowen School of Law.

“This endowment will benefit both Bowen and the community at large,” said Jonathan Q. Warren, the eldest son of the Warrens and a 2005 Bowen graduate himself. “Undoubtedly, this will only reflect upon, recognize, and advance my mother’s legacy and influence; the name Judge Joyce Williams Warren will live forever at Bowen.”

The Warrens’ middle son, Jamie Warren, said, “I’m extremely proud to have a mother who chose a life of service dedicated to helping children and families. This fellowship spotlights her as an enduring beacon of light.”

Justin Warren, the youngest of the Warrens’ sons, expressed his thoughts: “To me, the fellowship means my mom is a legal rock star. I can only hope to achieve the same heights in my career as she has in hers.”

Judge Warren regards the fellowship as a beautiful and lasting tribute, for which she is immeasurably grateful. She also shared her excitement for the future of Bowen and the newly-established fellowship.

“I am ecstatic that other jurists will have an opportunity to be at Bowen and use their expertise to educate students and alumni.”

The fellowship is expected to be funded over the next five years, and the law school aims to welcome its first jurist during the 2030 academic year. The gift is a part of the Centennial Campaign, UA Little Rock’s largest fundraising effort to date, which aims to raise $250 million by its 100-year anniversary in 2027.