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As a ward of New York State, 10-year-old Keith Watters was sent by a judge to a secure facility for youth, even though he hadn't committed any crime. His court-appointed legal aid lawyer had been little help. Keith describes the facility as “a terrible place to send a child.”

He was reassigned to a children’s home after several weeks, but never forgot being unjustly placed in the dangerous facility. He has devoted his career to ensuring that others don’t suffer due to inadequate counsel and regularly represents people who have little money. “I take cases other lawyers won’t,” he says.

After attending Ithaca College, Keith earned his law degree at Georgetown University Law Center and opened his own practice in Washington, D.C., working as a criminal defense lawyer. During his career, he has been elected president of four bar associations, including the National Bar Association—the nation's largest group representing African American law professionals.

“I credit my success in college to professors like Carl Sgrecci, who inspired me to do my best and treated everyone with the utmost respect. The educational opportunities at Ithaca enabled me to attend law school.

Through more than a hundred jury trials, Keith has remained a tenacious advocate for his clients. “It’s in me to look out for the underdog, because I was an underdog.