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Scott Keller

BA 2004, Political Science & Philosophy
JD 2007, University of Texas at Austin

Texas Solicitor General, Office of the Attorney General, Austin, TX

Scott Keller has spent his legal career being prepared. Clerking for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, as well as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, required long hours of study and hard work. But after three years as an associate at Yetter Coleman LLP in Austin, Texas, he joined the staff of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz as chief counsel, and found out just how much that preparation pays off under pressure.

“During last year’s gun control debate, I was on the Senate floor with the Senator for the crucial votes,” he explains. “Without any notice, the Senator had just been selected by the party leaders as the one Republican to give a floor speech arguing against the bill that would be voted on in a few minutes. Having only a minute to prepare, I scribbled handwritten talking points on the back of a legal pad and handed them to the Senator. He nailed the speech, and we won the vote. Looking back, it was surreal to be on the Senate floor, crafting an argument on the fly based on binders’ worth of background information I had memorized over the preceding months—and it worked perfectly.”

Purdue Influences

Professor Will McLauchlan’s constitutional law courses set me up to succeed in law school. He taught me how to think like a lawyer and read judicial opinions before I got to law school.

Professor William McBride’s twentieth century philosophy and existentialism courses taught me to constantly analyze the world and think critically about applying philosophical concepts to all sorts of different issues in life.

Purdue Memories

Storming Ross-Ade’s field after the Ohio State and Indiana football games my freshman year (2000) on the way to the Rose Bowl.

Purdue Now

My grandfather (class of ’50, after returning from World War II on the GI Bill), father, mother, great uncle, uncle, and sister all went to Purdue. For me, Purdue is a reminder of my Midwest upbringing. Part of that upbringing was valuing gritty hard work and determination over achievement based simply on knowing the right people at the right time. Purdue emphasizes work ethic, which is the root of the boilermaker spirit, all while providing a world class education.

Greatest Achievement

Surviving a year’s worth of 100-hour-plus work weeks while clerking for Judge Alex Kozinski, and doing it well enough for him to recommended me for another clerkship—with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Person I Admire

My father.

Idea of Perfect Happiness

Intellectually challenging work, thriving personal relationships and friendships, and the time to take in all the world has to offer. Plus an NCAA men’s basketball national championship for the Boilermakers. 

What I’m Reading

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned

Profession I’d Like to Try

Wine importer. I think Dr. Richard Vine’s wine appreciation course in the Department of Food Science made a lot of us wonder if we had chosen the right major at Purdue.