Michele Smith, an attorney with Mehaffy Weber, left, was awarded the Athena Award by the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce. The 2007 winner, Paula O’Neal, right, presented Smith the award on May 16.
Mehaffy Weber attorney Michele Smith is the 2008 recipient of the Athena Award, given annually by the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce to recognize outstanding business and professional women and to create an environment of assistance, encouragement and mentoring to women in the community.
2007 Athena recipient Paula O’Neal presented the award to Smith May 16 at the annual Lobsterfest Dinner in front of a crowd of nearly 700.
“Michele demonstrates support for women both professionally and through community service,” said O’Neal, “She personifies the highest level of professional excellence and reaches out to open the way for others to fulfill their potential.”
Smith graduated from Lamar University with a bachelor’s of business administration degree in accounting. She received her juris doctorate from Baylor University School of Law in 1992. While attending Baylor, Smith was a member of the Order of the Barristers.
Since joining MehaffyWeber in 1993, Smith has more than 14 years of diverse jury trial experience representing clients in general civil litigation, with a concentration in complex mass tort litigation including asbestos, benzene, butadiene, and products liability. She has handled matters in state and federal court involving products and premises liability, nursing home litigation and pharmaceutical defense.
She has also coordinated statewide litigation for several national clients. Smith practices in the firm’s Houston and Beaumont offices and has tried cases to verdict in Harris, Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Brazoria counties.
Smith is board certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She has been a shareholder with the Mehaffy Weber since 1999 and currently serves on the firm’s Compensation Committee.
A former Texas Monthly “Rising Star,” Smith was Jefferson County Young Lawyer of the year in 2002, is a member of Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation, has held many positions with the Jefferson County Bar Association Auxiliary, served as a director of both the Jefferson County Bar Foundation and the Jefferson County Bar Association.
She has served on the local rules committee for the Texas Eastern Federal District Court and is a member of the Defense Research Institute. She is a member of both the Texas Association of Defense Counsel and the International Association of Defense Counsel.
Her dedication to the Beaumont community includes service as a teen court volunteer and involvement with the Jefferson County Pro Bono Program. She is a Leadership Beaumont graduate and has been the fundraising chair for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
A past president of the Junior League of Beaumont, Smith’s other community activities include work with the Neches River Festival and service on the boards of Land Manor, Catholic Charities, Beaumont Civic Ballet, the Symphony of Southeast Texas, St. Anthony Cathedral School, Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School, Lamar University’s Friends of the Arts and the Lamar University Alumni Association.
Smith is the 21st recipient of the Athena Award, instituted by the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce in 1988. Recipients are nominated by Chamber members and chosen by committee.