Legal, Financial and Real Estate – OutSmart Magazine


Jeff Watters (courtesy photo)

IIt’s always easy to identify people who are comfortable in their own humanity. They tend to be spontaneous, creative, intuitive, and are meant to make the world a better place.

Take Jeff Watters, for example. This year’s favorite male lawyer graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with a dual major in business administration and political science. “The business degree was a concession to my parents,” admits Watters. “The law was in my heart, even as a child. I’ve always been the kid on the playground who knew the rules of the game and could negotiate the solution to a challenge.

Watters was a natural fit to be a “youth advocate” in his elementary school “court” for children who had committed minor offenses. He argued fervently on behalf of his friends who were disciplined. “It was extremely rewarding to help them achieve reasonable results. Ninety percent of children have never reoffended! he remembers.

Watters received his law degree from Baylor University School of Law, where he graduated with great distinction and was also editor-in-chief of the journal Baylor Law Review. After a stint with the prestigious law firm Baker Botts, he is now an estate and inheritance lawyer at Gray Reed & McGraw LLP. “Clients appreciate my ability to empathize at a very emotional time in their lives. It is never just a question of money for them. I focus on getting to the back of the complex [family inheritance] problems and find creative solutions that will achieve the end results my clients deserve. It’s a very enriching experience for me, ”he concludes.

Watters has also made a serious impact on Houston’s LGBTQ community through his volunteer work. “Jeff is always ready to roll up his sleeves,” says Brad Pritchett, field director for Equality Texas, an LGBTQ rights organization. “Through his involvement in the Houston LGBTQ + political caucus, he mobilized to help select candidates who seek the support of our community.”

Last year, Watters was appointed co-chair of the board of directors of Lambda Legal Houston, a local chapter of the country’s oldest and largest national organization whose mission is to advance the civil rights of LGBTQ people through high-impact litigation, education, and public policy work. (Lambda Legal won the historic United States Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas decision that invalidated national sodomy laws in 2003.)

“We are very grateful to Jeff for his leadership,” says Avery Belyeu, regional manager of the South Central Office at Lambda Legal. “He brings a positive attitude to everything he does. His commitment to civil rights and equality is hard to match, and we are very fortunate to be working alongside him in this fight. “

To learn more about Lambda Legal, visit; to learn more about Equality Texas, visit


Best bank

Amegy Bank
Finalists: BB&T, Regions Bank, Wells Fargo

Best credit union

Houston Federal Credit Union
Finalist: People’s Trust Federal Credit Union

Best Male Accountant / Bookkeeper

Joseph Werle (Crunch Consulting)
Finalists: Gary Gritz, Brian Kapchinskie, Donald Simon

Best Female Lawyer

Deborah Lawson (to attach), Jessica Rodriguez-Wahlquist (to attach)
Finalists: Joanne Ericksen, Lena Laurenzo, Dawn Renken

Best Male Lawyer

Raed González (to attach), Jean Nechman (to attach), Jeff Watters (to attach)
Finalists: Mitchell Katine, Adam Miller

Best Female Planner / Financial Advisor

Grace Yung
Finalists: Berkely Arrents, Britt Kormann, Christyna Lewis, Lona McManus

Best Male Financial Planner / Advisor

Richard dickson
Finalists: Elias Contreras, Shane Theriot

Best LGBTQ Fund Manager

Doug Smith (Hawthorne Capital)


Best Male Real Estate Agent

Brooks ballard
Finalists: Bryan Cotton, Jeremy Fain, Thomas Phillips, Danny Pleaseon, Chris Schmidt, Colby Wulf

Best Female Real Estate Agent

Karen Derr (to attach), Debbie levine (to attach)
Finalists: Melissa Murray, LaToya Phillips, Shan Randle

Best Mortgage Company

AmCap Home Loans (Cari Middaugh)
Finalists: Amegy Mortgage, John Frels, Cody Grizzoffi

Best Title Company

Alamo Title Co. (Lyn Sullivan)
Finalists: Chicago Title Inner Loop, Texas American Title

Best home builder

Sabo Custom Builders
Finalists: Jose Ocque, Sandcastle Homes, ROC Homes, Loyd Russel Homes

Best Home Renovation Company

Heels 2 Hammer
Finalists: Juancho Jimenez, Luria Construction, Odd Job Fence Co.

Preferred rental community

Durham heights
Finalists: Elan Heights, Elan Memorial Park, Law Harrington Senior Living Center

For a full list of winners, go here.

This article appears in the October 2021 issue of OutSmart magazine.

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