Shareholder Michele Y. Smith was recently named President-Elect for the International Association of Defense Counsel’s (IADC) Board of Directors at their annual meeting. The organization serves some of the world’s distinguished members of corporate and insurance defense attorneys and executives since 1920. IADC members represent the largest corporations from around the globe including the majority of those listed in the FORTUNE 500.
Michele’s election is a prestigious honor, as for the next several years she will be front and center as a leader in this industry across the country and around the globe. In response to this recognition, MehaffyWeber’s Managing Shareholder Barbara Barron stated, “Michele absolutely deserves this honor because she has faithfully worked diligently and successfully in every position she has had within the IADC. Not only is this a well-deserved and unsurpassed honor for Michele, but she is bringing valuable recognition to the MehaffyWeber name.” Michele previously served on multiple committees and as a board member for the IADC.
A Long History of Leading the Way in the IADC
Michele joined the IADC in 2006 at the Annual Meeting in Rome. Michele has served the IADC as Chair of the Civil Justice Response Committee (2009-2011, where she was instrumental in assisting to rebrand the committee), In-House and Law Firm Management Committee (2016-2018, where she was proud to be interviewed in the first IADC Speaks podcast), and CLE (2019) Committee. Michele also chaired the CLE program for the 2017 Annual Meeting in Quebec City. Additionally, Michele is a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and International Committees, and she is a Life Fellow and President’s Circle Donor of the IADC Foundation.
Michele had had the privilege to serve as IADC CLE Committee liaison (2019-2022) to craft and present IADC programming virtually during the pandemic and in-person. Michele was also the liaison to the Construction Law and Litigation Committee and to the Trial Academy Task Force. She is pleased the Academy is back in person for 2022 having been a student of the Academy (1997). In addition to other papers, she contributed a chapter to the Defense Counsel Training Manual (Deposing Plaintiff’s Damages Experts) in 2016. She served on the Nominating Committee (2014), the CLE Committee (2017-2019), the Membership Committee (2013-2022), and was a proud member of the Chuck Cole “All Stars” Trial Academy Faculty (2013).
Michele and her husband, Mitchell, have served as First Timer hosts to numerous IADC members and were honored to serve as Second Timer Chairs in 2015. They also have served on the General Convention Committee at many meetings, with a highlight being Co-Chairs of the 2010 Hospitality Committee at the Midyear Meeting in Naples, Florida and the Annual Meeting in Barcelona, Spain. Michele also serves as an IADC Ambassador.
With her latest esteemed achievement on the horizon, its no wonder Michele has become an invaluable leader in the legal industry. She is certainly no stranger to leadership roles, serving as President for multiple legal organizations, including the Jefferson County Bar Foundation, Jefferson County Bar Foundation, and the Jefferson County Young Lawyers’ Association. Michele served as President of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel (2014-2015) during a legislative session, and is a past recipient of the TADC’s Founders’ Award, the organization’s highest honor. She is only the second female to receive the award in the association’s history. Additionally, Michele has also taken on leadership roles within the Defense Research Institute, Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation, and the State Bar of Texas.
Michele has also been recognized by numerous legal organizations throughout her distinguished legal career. She is one of only a small percentage of lawyers to be Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She has been honored with awards as the Jefferson County Young Lawyer of the Year in 2002, the Cris Quinn Community Service Award in 2014, and the St. Thomas More Award in 2017. In 2019, Michele received the Kenneth W. Lewis Professionalism Award from the Jefferson County Bar Association and was named the Best Lawyers® Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions-Defendants “Lawyer of the Year” in Beaumont that same year. She was previously named Best Lawyers® “Lawyer of the Year” in Beaumont for Insurance Law in and Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants in 2017, as well as Product Liability Litigation-Defendants in 2015. Additionally, Michele has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America for a multitude of practice areas for almost a decade.
Michele has also been selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list by Thomson Reuters every year since 2005. She has received such a large number of votes that she made the Top 100 List in the Houston Region, the Top 50 Women in Texas, and the Top 100 list for all of Texas, each for multiple years. More recently, Michele was selected to the Super Lawyers “Feature Story” list in 2021. She also maintains her status as a Texas Top Rated Lawyer with an AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5.0 Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.
In addition to her outstanding legal work, Michele Smith is extremely active in the local community. Michele believes deeply in the concept of servant leadership. She obtained her law degree from Baylor University and now proudly serves as a Jaworski Fellow for the Practice Court Program, mentoring and assessing its law students.
Michele sits on numerous boards, including the Shorkey Center which focuses on children with special needs. She is a past president of the Junior League, and has been active on the boards of the Symphony of Southeast Texas, Land Manor, the Julie Rogers Gift of Life Program, and Catholic Charities. She currently serves on the Board of the Foundation for Southeast Texas and Lamar University Foundation, which named her a Distinguished Young Alumna in 2012.
A Valuable Asset In and Out of the Courtroom
Over her 30 years at MehaffyWeber P.C., Michele has been a leader and invaluable asset to the team. Michele has served multiple terms on both the management and compensation committees. She has taken leadership roles in the firm’s marketing, business development, associate development, and mentoring. Michele has also led the firm’s efforts in recruiting, summer associate development, and she chairs MehaffyWeber’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.
Clients have come to rely on Michele for her depth of legal knowledge and aggressive representation. Michele has successfully represented clients in complex commercial litigation, products liability litigation, pharmaceutical defense, and construction defects. She has coordinated statewide litigation for national clients with an unrivaled attention to detail.