Aaron Watson JD ’09: Living the Dream

By Brandi Palmer

On Saturday, Jan. 17, 30-year-old Pensacola attorney Aaron Watson JD ’09 will be honored for Living the Dream.

Aaron Watson.

Aaron Watson.

The special honor is for individuals exemplifying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream. Eight of Pensacola’s rain-makers will accept the honor, named for the incomparable Martin Luther King Jr., Aaron among them.

“This award inspires me to continue to push forward,” said Aaron. “I know that the eyes of the younger generation of lawyers are watching. If I can inspire them to dream big dreams, it makes my hard work worthwhile.”

Aaron, who recently made partner at his firm, Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P.A., said that his dream has always been to become a lawyer, and to move back home to help the people who helped him.

“The fact that my hometown selected me for this prestigious award, lets me know that I made the right decision,” said Aaron.

Aaron is today a top advocate who gives back by mentoring students at Pine Forest High School, where he himself went to school. He talks with students about possibilities.

Aaron grew up in a modest home with five children. His father Larry Watson was a dedicated pastor who started off as a sharecropper and is today the senior pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Pensacola. Aaron is the second person in his family to earn a college degree.

Aaron said, “Remember this, every one of us has a spaceship. Our spaceships are fueled by our dreams. As long as you can dream, you can go travel as high as you want to go. One thing is for sure, nobody is going to stand in the way of a spaceship. If you want to be a lawyer, be a lawyer. You can do it.”

When Aaron Watson first tried out for Stetson’s legendary Trial Team in 2008, he did not make the cut. He had yet to find his voice as an advocate. An internship and working with two first-class mentors, Willie Gary and Fred Levin, helped Aaron to hone his individual voice. The next time he tried out for Stetson’s Trial Team, Aaron made it on the first pass. He went on to win regional, then national competitions with the team.

After graduating from Stetson with his law degree in 2009, Aaron immediately started making a name for himself in Pensacola.

His first high-profile case with the Levin Papantonio law firm was the case of Victor Steen, a young African-American teenager killed by a policeman. The case resulted in one of the largest civil rights settlements to date against the city of Pensacola. Aaron subsequently won a 12.6 million dollar verdict for his client last year, making it his second million dollar verdict in two years.

“I am still dreaming,” Aaron said. “I still have goals. I am only 30 years old. My definition of success is setting a goal, accomplishing it, and showing others how you did it.”

Read more of Aaron’s story inweekly.

Watch a video of Aaron practicing his closing argument while still a law student at Stetson, days before winning the AAJ national championship with Stetson’s Trial Team.

To learn more about advocacy at Stetson, visit http://www.stetson.edu/law/advocacy.