Wilbert (Will) Watts oversees LAFLA’s housing policy work and litigation (primarily affirmative housing litigation and litigation protecting the rights of unhoused individuals) and its work in the area of community economic development. Prior to joining LAFLA in 2019, Will served as the Co-Director of UCLA School of Law’s Veterans Legal Clinic, in which capacity he launched the legal clinic and facilitated its assistance primarily to veterans, their caregivers and families who access services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles campus. His responsibilities also included teaching the Veterans Justice Clinic and the Introduction to the Lawyer-Client Relationship at UCLA School of Law.
Prior to serving on the faculty of UCLA, Will was the Directing Attorney for the Homelessness Prevention Law Project at Public Counsel. In this role, he sought to address the needs of both veterans and non-veterans throughout the City and County of Los Angeles who are homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless. Among other things, Will was responsible for the project’s state and local policy work, its government benefits work, and the project’s housing work, including the firm’s participation in the Shriver Housing Project, a California pilot project providing low-income litigants with representation in eviction matters.
His legal experience also includes serving as a partner at DLA Piper LLP where he practiced in all areas of real estate representing major financial institutions, investment funds, developers of major projects throughout Southern California, and insurance companies.
Will’s numerous board and civic activities include serving as a Los Angeles County Commissioner on behalf of Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas and as a board member of the agency responsible for planning and overseeing the allocation of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding to address the needs of homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness in Pasadena. He has been named a Southern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine and, in 2010, was honored with one of the National LGBT Bar Association’s inaugural 40 Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 awards.
Will earned his A.B. in English and Psychology magna cum laude from Georgetown University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.