Stepping up for civil rights

Justin Runquist

Business law is a required course for all students in the College of Commerce & Finance. For William T. Wilson, however, business law is his passion and his every day job.

As an attorney for MacElree Harvey, a West Chester law firm, Wilson focuses on employment and civil rights law. He has the opportunity to represent both individual employees and employers of small- and middle-size businesses. It’s a job that he finds very rewarding and exciting, from court cases to managing the law firm like an actual business.

“It’s very important for people to find a job they enjoy,” Wilson said. “I like the teamwork environment of working in this firm. I also find this to be very intellectually stimulating work.”

Indeed, Wilson’s line of work requires a strong intellect. And he possesses plenty of it. After finishing high school in Florida, he challenged himself to get into the best schools possible. He enrolled in The Citadel in 1972, which remains one of the nation’s most elite military academies. Wilson later received his degree in law from Duke University.

In the courtroom, Wilson takes pride in being an officer of the law. But three or four times a year, he can be found serving the United States Army as a different kind of officer. Currently, Wilson is a lieutenant colonel in civil affairs, which requires that he travel to Europe or Africa regularly each year.

The civil affairs work he does in the military meshes closely with his specialty in law. He takes pride in working for justice and upholding one’s basic civil rights.

“It’s tough work and a tough commitment,” Wilson said. “I wouldn’t pressure my kid or any other kid to serve. But serving has been quite rewarding to me.”

Wilson has worked hard to build a strong reputation as a lawyer and to provide consistent, successful service to clients. He was recently recognized by Main Line Today magazine as one of the area’s best attorneys. And Wilson and his firm have built a stable client base from succeeding in important past cases, which is important since law is a business driven by referrals.

Wilson has won cases ranging from harassment based on sex, race, age and disability to unlawful terminations and denials of promotions. He takes special pride in a West Chester prison case he recently won, which he believes has ultimately accelerated the county’s decision to build a new, non-discriminatory work release program.

“That was a case that would have been pushed to the back burner,” Wilson said. “It is cases such as this that make me proud that I seek out work that is interesting, not because it necessarily brings home the most money.”