Walter Umphrey honored by JCBA during Law Day ceremony

David Yates May 13, 2010, 5:23am

Walter Umphrey accepts the Blackstone Award from the Jefferson County Bar Association during Law Day ceremonies May 7.

Eager to honor their colleagues and elect new leaders, dozens of area attorneys turned out for Law Day 2010.

On Friday, May 7, lawyers from every avenue were huddled inside the Jefferson County Courthouse jury impaneling room, where Walter Umphrey, one of Texas' most famous plaintiff's attorneys, was honored with the Blackstone Award for his lengthy service to the community and clients.

Before being honored, Umphrey was introduced by fellow attorney Jeff Branick, who said he was more nervous than when he got married.

"Maybe it's because the honoree is more demanding than my wife," Branick joked.

Branick said Umphrey's "exploits in asbestos, toxic tort and tobacco are legendary," but added that before he started down a litigious path, Umphrey worked as an insurance claim adjuster.

He said Umphrey had settled a claim for a seaman who had contracted a "disease" and figured "if it was that easy to make money, he wanted to be part of it."

"He's made a ton of money ... but he has been extremely charitable with that money," Branick concluded.

After accepting his award, Umphrey told the audience that "it's been hard work and a lot of fun."

A cofounder of the Provost & Umphrey law firm, Umphrey was born in Port Arthur. He received a football scholarship to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, then completed undergraduate studies at Baylor University in Waco.

In 1965, Walter received a Juris Doctorate degree from Baylor Law School and then joined the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office as a prosecuting attorney.

Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower "to strengthen our great heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under the law," the American Bar Association website states.

The local Law Day activities were sponsored by the Jefferson County Bar Association and the Jefferson County Young Lawyers Association.

The two organizations also announced leadership election results at the ceremony.


2010-11 JCBA Board of Directors:

President - Jesse Branick
President Elect - Michele Smith
Vice President - Trent Devenzio
Treasurer - Kent Walston
Secretary - Mike Eaves
Second Term Directors - Kathleen Kennedy, Tracy Richardson, David Starnes,Raquel West
First Term Directors - Charlie Goehringer, James W. Mehaffy, Bob Monk, Tommy Yeates
JCYLA Representative - Chris McKinney

2010-11 JCYLA Board of Directors

President - Chris McKinney
President Elect - Sheigh Summerlin
Vice President - Justin Sanderson
Treasurer - Andrew Norman
Secretary - Rachel Grove
One Year Term Directors - Colin Moore, Scott Shaver, (3) To Be Appointed Positions
Two Year Term Directors - Stefanie Adams, Zack Hawthorn, Frank Messina, John West, Baylor Wortham
Minority Director - To Be Appointed
TYLA Representative - Clint Woods

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