Legal, Financial and Real Estate – OutSmart Magazine
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 lambdalegal.org; to learn more about Equality Texas, visit qualitytexas.org.
LEGAL & FINANCIAL
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
Finalists: Berkely Arrents, Britt Kormann, Christyna Lewis, Lona McManus
Best Male Financial Planner / Advisor
Finalists: Elias Contreras, Shane Theriot
Best LGBTQ Fund Manager
Doug Smith (Hawthorne Capital)
Best Male Real Estate Agent
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
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.