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An interview with Jack Keeney, Jr.

An interview with 2012
Justice Stewart Award honoree
Jack Keeney, Jr.


Your family has quite a heritage in the law. But what would you be if you were not an attorney?

Thank you for the nice compliment about the family lawyers: my wife, late father, brother, and sister-in-law. I would love to direct feature films. That goes back to my first childhood movie camera, even before super-8. I admire the great directors Fellini, Wajda, Kieslowski, Kurosawa, Truffaut, and of course Hitchcock and Welles. I have many of their films on DVD with outstanding commentary by film scholars on separate audio tracks that are a real continuing education for me.

What do you like best about your new professional home at the Legal Aid Society of DC?

The mission to brief and argue appeals for the District’s most vulnerable residents is both an honor and an exciting challenge. This work is so critical for our clients and I feel privileged to represent them in their most important matters. Working on their appellate matters, surrounded by young dedicated trial lawyers who are equally passionate about their trial work, is inspiring. I feel fortunate to have had two great jobs in my life and in both I was able to serve this community, first through pro bono at a fully supportive firm with great role models, and now full-time at Legal Aid.

What advice would you give a young person who is interested in a career in law and justice?

While of course you have to support yourself and your family, you should try to follow your heart and do what you really want to do at each stage of your life. For each individual, this will be different, so one-size advice will not fit all. It is important to find a job that not merely tolerates but encourages you to pursue all your interests, whatever they may be. Try to find people who are doing now what you aspire to do and try to work with them and follow their path. Dare to be different because you are different and can use your unique talents in many diverse ways. As a professional, your life should be much more than the sum of your billable hours or your required tasks. Being a professional means giving your talents to the community too in whatever way seizes your imagination.

What is your favorite place in DC?

Verizon Center, although the Wizards and Caps have been disappointing of late.

What books are you reading right now?

I am almost finished William Coleman’s autobiography that is a very inspiring tale of his multiple roles in law and public service. I just started the new novel Watergate by Thomas Mallon that is a particularly fascinating inside-Washington novel about real people.

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