Being Involved: ABA YLD Assembly Speaker Latanishia Watters

Volume 37, Number 2

by

Melissa J. Healy is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate in the Portland, Oregon, office of Barran Liebman.

Latanishia Watters is a partner at Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker in Birmingham, Alabama, and recently began her term as the Assembly Speaker for the ABA YLD. Watters has previously served in a number of capacities within the Division, including as an Editorial Board member for The Young Lawyer, Minorities in the Profession Scholar, District Representative for Alabama and Georgia, member of the Affiliate Assistance Team, Assistant Diversity Director, and, most recently, as Assembly Clerk.

Watters decided that she would be either a doctor or a lawyer as a child, when she thought there were “too many diseases, and too many things wrong with our justice system.” She settled on the legal path after a candy striper job taught her that blood and internal body parts made her nauseous. Watters graduated with a B.A. from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, and earned both her J.D. and M.B.A. from Samford University in the Birmingham area. She started at Haskell Slaughter as an associate in 2001 (she had previously interned for the firm in summer 2000), and became a partner in 2008. Watters cites “having my colleagues recognize my value and hard work by selecting me as a partner” as one of her greatest accomplishments. Her practice currently focuses on commercial litigation.

 

Watters first became involved in the ABA YLD in spring 2005, when she was invited to a meeting in Miami (which happens to be her favorite vacation destination). While at the meeting, she met several Division leaders and many other young lawyers. “It was awesome to meet so many people who had different backgrounds, but were facing some of the same pressures and issues I was dealing with as a young lawyer,” Watters says. She applied for and was appointed to her first position on The Young Lawyer and hasn’t looked back since. Watters’ favorite aspects of ABA involvement include “assembly and debate, the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with a diverse network of lawyers from all over the country, invaluable career development resources, leadership opportunities, and most importantly, the opportunity to give back to the communities we serve through inspiring public service projects.”

Watters’ most recent positions (as Assembly Clerk and Assembly Speaker) have entailed work with the ABA YLD Assembly, which is the principal policymaking body of the Division. The Assembly meets during both the ABA Midyear and Annual Meetings. During the Assembly, delegates from each state bar organization, national affiliate, and military branch come together to debate and vote on resolutions that impact young lawyers. State delegates are allotted based on that state’s number of ABA YLD members.

Among her duties as Assembly Clerk, Watters handled the certification of delegates, acted as a liaison between the ABA YLD and affiliated organizations, advised and assisted the Assembly Speaker, and chaired the Credentials Board (a group that assists the Clerk with the certification of delegate credentials and hears and determines any dispute relating to the allocation of delegates). As Assembly Speaker, Watters will act as the chief legislative officer for the Division. Her responsibilities include chairing the ABA YLD Assembly, as well as the Elections Committee and the Resolutions Team. Watters enjoys being involved in the Assembly because it allows her to have a direct impact on policy change, both by introducing resolutions to meet the needs of young lawyers and minorities and by developing relationships with lawyers from all over the country.

Watters has several goals for future involvement within the ABA. She hopes to remain involved in the development of policies that will benefit young lawyers and the legal profession as a whole, and plans to stay active in increasing the participation and involvement of minorities in the ABA.    

Outside of the office, Watters can often be found writing—she writes short stories, and “dream[s] about writing the next great American novel or screenplay.” She also enjoys reading, traveling, and meeting new people, and her guilty pleasure is having a spa day complete with a manicure, pedicure, massage, and facial. Her ultimate goal is to be a nationally recognized leader in her field with a large client base, but Watters states that she isn’t sure where she’ll be in 10 years. “That’s the great part about it,” she says. “The possibilities are endless.” No matter where she ends up, odds are she’ll be following her guiding principles: “Act with integrity and confidence, always be professional, and treat everyone fairly and respectfully.”  

 

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