Since 1946, the attorneys at MehaffyWeber have dedicated themselves to serving both local and national professional associations. From Texas organizations like the State Bar of Texas and Texas Association of Defense Counsel to nationally and internationally-recognized groups like the International Association of Defense Counsel and the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, leadership roles have come naturally to many of the attorneys at MehaffyWeber. Its lawyers have served in a wide variety of leadership roles, including positions on local, regional, national, and international boards and committees. From the Jefferson County Bar Association to the State Bar of Texas to the International Association of Defense Counsel, the lawyers at MehaffyWeber are committed to the legacy of leadership established 75 years ago.
Attorneys With Texas-Wide and National Leadership Experience
The firm’s attorneys have placed a high priority on giving back – as a firm and as individuals – to the communities they serve, to the legal industry, and beyond. Three firm Shareholders – Bob Black, Barbara Barron, and Michele Smith – personify legal industry leadership, walking in the footsteps of the leaders from the past.
MehaffyWeber Managing Shareholder Bob Black is a leading Texas lawyer, renowned for his litigation abilities and as a mediator and arbitrator. Black has tried more than 50 cases and has focused on mediation and arbitration in recent years, successfully mediating more than 5,000 cases on a wide range of subjects and routinely arbitrating disputes throughout Texas and in other states. He is a Past President of the State Bar of Texas, where he also served as Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Board of Disciplinary Appeals. During his time as President, Black created an initiative called Oyez Oyez Oh Yay! to educate students on the U.S. Supreme Court decisions to illustrate the central importance of the rule of law. His initiative was awarded the National Association of American Bar Executives and Lexis Nexis’s Community Outreach and Education Award, a national honor not previously accorded to a State Bar of Texas initiative. He most recently won the Texas Bar Foundation Lola Wright Foundation Award in 2021 in professionalism.
Bob Black has also served on the Board of Trustees for the Texas Bar Foundation and is included in the American Arbitration Association Roster of Appeals. The Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas named him a Texas Legal Legend – and he was the youngest member ever selected for this distinction.
Shareholder Barbara Barron has excelled in a unique combination of litigation areas, including mass torts, toxic torts, personal injury litigation, products liability litigation, and labor and employment law. Barron was selected for membership in the Houston Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges. She is a member of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel Sections of Trial Tactics, Practice and Procedures, Insurance Industry, Toxic Tort and Environmental Law, and Products Liability, and is involved with the group’s Diversity Initiative Committee. Barron is also a Master of the Michelle F. Mehaffy Inn of Court and is on the Vice Chair Committee on Trial Techniques for the American Bar Association. She has served on the State Bar of Texas Committee on Women in the Law and Planning Committee for the Advanced Personal Injury Course.
In addition to her extensive legal industry involvement, Barron also shares her wealth of legal knowledge through speaking engagements both locally and across the nation. She has presented at the National Business Institute, the Defense Research Institute, as well as the USLaw Network – an international organization composed of approximately 100 independent, full-service law firms. She has also spoken at request of organizations like LexisNexis, a leading global provider of legal support services, and the Houston Paralegal Association, the State Bar of Texas, University of Houston Law Center, and many more. She also Chaired and Co-Chaired numerous HarrisMartin silica conferences.
Firm Shareholder Michele Smith represents clients in complex litigation matters. Her practice spans products liability, premises liability, pharmaceutical litigation, construction defects and commercial litigation. Smith currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Defense Council, where she previously served as Chair of the CLE Committee and Chair of the In-House Law Firm Management Committee. She previously served as President, President-Elect, Executive Vice President, and Trial Academy Co-Chair of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel. She is a Past President of the Jefferson County Young Lawyers Association, as well as a Past President of the Jefferson County Bar Association, a Past President of the Jefferson County Bar Foundation, and a Past President of the Jefferson County Bar Association Auxiliary.
She was also selected for membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates’ Houston Chapter. Smith has served as the Texas State Representative for the Southwest Region of the Defense Research Institute since 2018. She is also a Master of the Michelle F. Mehaffy Inn of Court and previously served on its Board of Directors. She served on the Pattern Jury Charge Committee in Products Liability for the State Bar of Texas. She remains the Membership Chair of the Texas Bar Foundation Fellows.
Smith has spoken to various groups at their events and conferences, such as The Texas Trial Lawyers Association and The Texas Association of Defense Counsel. She was also the very first host of the International Association of Defense Counsel’s podcast, “IADC Speaks,” where she interviewed MehaffyWeber’s own Managing Shareholder Bob Black.
Attorneys Leading the Way in the Legal Industry
Shareholder Paul Heyburn currently serves as the Exclusive Environmental Law Member in Texas for IR Global, a multidisciplinary professional services network that provides legal, accountancy, and financial advice to companies and individuals around the world. Heyburn is currently the Chair of the International Institute for Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law, where he has also served as Chair-Elect, and Vice Chair of Practice Development.
Heyburn is also the Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Practice Group and Former Chair of the Environmental Law Practice Group for Mackrell International, a global network of independent law firms. Shareholder Arthur Almquist serves as a Team Leader for Mackrell International’s Technology Practice Group, while Maryalyce Cox serves as Group Chair for the Travel and Tourism Practice Group.
Shareholder Keith O’Connell is the Former President and member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel. O’Connell served on the Pattern Jury Charge IV Committee of the State Bar of Texas for over five years. In addition, he served as a Director of the Defense Counsel of San Antonio and on the Task Force to Expand Legal Services Delivery for the Texas Supreme Court.
Shareholder Louis Scofield currently serves as the Southwest Region Membership Chair of the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys. He previously served on the Executive Council, as Texas Membership Chair, and as South Central Region Membership Chair. Scofield previously served as Director at Large, Vice-President, and Administrative Vice President of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel.
Shareholder Joe Broussard served on the Pattern Jury Charge – Family Law and Probate Committee of the State Bar of Texas for over five years, as well as on the Guardianship Advisory Board for the Statutory Probate Courts of Texas for over a decade. Shareholder Trey Sandoval serves on the Board of Directors for District 18 of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel, as well as on the Construction Law Committee for the Defense Research Institute.
Shareholder Roger McCabe dedicated 15 years to serving on five different State Bar of Texas Committees, while Shareholder Patricia Chamblin sits on the Board of Directors of Texas Lawyers’ Insurance Exchange. Additionally, Shareholder Sandra Clark served on the Advisory Committee of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for Personal Injury Trial Law for over six years, ultimately serving as its Chair and served as an Examiner of the Personal Injury Specialization Exam for an additional six years. McCabe, Chamblin and Clark are also members of American Board of Trial Advocates. Shareholder Jim Henges serves as the Texas State Liaison for the Employment Law Section of the Defense Research Institute (DRI), the leading organization of defense attorneys and in-house counsel.
The firm cultivates the spirit of leadership in its next generation of lawyers, as well. Associate Elizabeth O’Connell Perez currently serves as Vice President of the San Antonio chapter of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel, and Associate Kate Broussard Thorne served as Past Secretary, Treasurer, and Director for the Jefferson County Young Lawyers Association.
Cultivating A Legacy of Leadership
MehaffyWeber was founded in 1946 as a litigation firm. As our clients’ needs expanded, we evolved into a broad-based regional law firm still with a strong emphasis in litigation. Today, we combine the traditional values upon which our firm was founded with an advanced and proactive approach to the practice of law.