Keith C. St. John

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Keith C. St. John


Peter W. Martin

Resource Type

Video Interview

Date of Recording





From the video archives of the Cornell Law School Heritage Project. The interviewer is Peter W. Martin; the videographer, Jaesuk Yoo. This video covers Keith St. John's experiences as a law student, his involvement in the Legal Aid Clinic and student government, subsequent work in legal services and both municipal and state government, and continuing commitment to public policy and public service.

Keith St. John was born in 1957. As an undergraduate he studied at Yale and Vassar, receiving a Bachelor's in Economics from Vassar in 1981. He studied public policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and earned a Master's in Public Policy Studies at Duke University in 1982. He earned a JD at Cornell Law School in 1985.

Keith St. John began his legal career at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York where he was Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow. He went on to become President and serve in that capacity for over twenty years. In 1989 he became Associate at Walter, Thayer & Mishler where he focused on family law and social security disability law. In 1992 he became Staff Attorney and Clinical Instructor at Albany Law School.

Keith St. John served as Alderman for the 2nd Ward of Albany for eight years. He says, in an essay in Out and Elected in the USA, that he was the first openly gay Black person elected to public office in the United States in 1989.

He was Law Guardian for the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department for ten years and Assistant Public Defender for Albany County Government for four years. He has been solo practitioner at his own office for over twenty years where he specializes in family and matrimonial law and real estate transactions.

Keith St. John is active in the New York State Bar Association. He serves as counsel to the New York State Senate Democratic Conference. He also serves as Director of the Fund for Modern Courts which seeks to improve the courts of New York.

Governor Cuomo appointed him to the New York State Commission on Uniform State Laws in1994. He has received the New York Bar Association's Root / Stimson Community and Professional Service Award, the Progressive Leadership Award from the Capital District chapter of Citizen Action, the Victor A. Lord Courage of Conviction Award from Equinox, and the City of Albany Distinguished Service Award from its Human rights Commission.


Cornell Law School, Cornell Law School alumni, Walter Thayer & Mishler


The initial phase of this project was sponsored by a generous grant from the law firm of Sutherland Asbill and Brennan LLP.