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Leah Watson

Senior Staff Attorney

ACLU's Racial Justice Program


Leah Watson (she/her) is a Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, where she focuses on classroom censorship efforts (education gag orders), bias in policing, the criminalization of poverty, and racial disparities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Previously, she was Senior Counsel in the Criminal Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where she led litigation challenging debtors’ prisons and excessive fines and fees practices in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Leah co-authored reports, delivered community trainings and developed policy recommendations for fines and fees reform at the state and local levels. She launched P.R.O.T.E.C.T.: A Guide for Law Enforcement Engagement with Students of Color. Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Leah was a Senior Associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and an Associate at Baker Hostetler LLP. She led cross-border investigations in one of the top ten largest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act settlements. She was a member of the trial team that secured a victory in the largest residential mortgage backed securities trial in history. Leah obtained Special Immigrant Juvenile status and custody orders for pro bono clients and successfully challenged a pro bono client’s criminal conviction. During a six-month externship at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, she represented clients in disability rights, police misconduct, fair housing, and wage theft cases. Leah earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School. Prior to law school, she taught high school in Atlanta, Georgia through Teach for America. Leah earned her B.A. magna cum laude in Communication Studies and Sociology from Vanderbilt University.