EducationAtlanta Law School, 1976
Professional AffiliationsInner Circle of Advocates, past president Inner Circle of Advocates, member American Board of Trial Advocates, past president American Board of Trial Advocates, Masters in Triad award, 1992
Don is a third-generation Irish-American. His great grandparents emigrated from Ireland and met on the boat while traveling to the United States. Don never knew his father because he died when Don was less than two years old from a preventable boiler explosion. His grandparents raised him and his grandfather was his role model, father and best friend. His grandfather died of a preventable heart attack when Don was 20 years old – having been to the physician four days in a row, receiving no treatment.
Don didn't realize until after practicing for nearly fifteen years as a child advocate, the impact his prior losses had on his career path and ultimate success. It was not until a Lawyer's Weekly profile in 1998 that Don realized the profound effect that those events had on his life.
Don grew up as an only child in the Deep South and by all standards his family would have been considered poor. However, Don didn't realize he came from a poor family until he got to college.
Within a couple of years of his grandfather's death and after starting law school, Don's grandmother became disabled. He was required to support her while attending night law school.
Don never intended to be a child advocate. It happened quite by accident. He had established himself as a criminal lawyer early in his career and was asked by a group of mothers in Atlanta, who later became known as the "Mothers of the Murdered and Missing Children," to be their lawyer. At that time, Atlanta leaders refused to recognize the serial nature of a number of African-American child death cases. Don was hired simply to get the mothers out of jail after their acts of civil disobedience. He found himself on national TV being introduced as "One of the country's leading child advocates." That label stuck and by the time his plane got back to Atlanta, there were numerous calls from families all over the United States asking him to represent their catastrophically injured children.
Don strongly believes in "walking the mile in the client's moccasins," and has given hundreds of speeches throughout the United States on "Where's the Passion?"
Don believes attitude is everything. He was the youngest member inducted into the Inner Circle of Advocates and became its youngest President (1997-1999). Previously, he was the national President of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) in 1992, a group of 5,000 trial lawyers equally divided between plaintiff and defense lawyers. He was president at the age of 39.
As of 2000, Don has tried or settled children's cases in forty-two states and five foreign countries, amassing 142 verdicts and settlements over one million dollars, including five over $10 million and one over $100 million. He was twice given the trial lawyer of the year award, received Oprah Winfrey's "People of Courage" distinction, and in 2007 received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. In 2008 he received the highest honor of his state bar, The Tradition Of Excellence Award.
In 1993 he formed Keenan's Kids Foundation a 501(c)(3) corporation. The foundation, in its first sixteen years, gathered 382,000 items of clothing for kids at risk, made 532,000 bologna and cheese sandwiches for children shelters and conducted several national safety projects, such as Playground Safety Project and Toy Safety. Both were featured on the Today Show. For more information, go to www.keenanskidsfoundation.com. Don is a regular quest on the Today Show, Larry King, 60 Minutes and all national media outlets. His book 365 Ways To Keep Kids Safe received the first place award for Best Parenting Book in 2008.