by Paige Tackett
Jenny Smiley’s commitment to serving law students, young lawyers, and the broader Dallas community makes her this month’s One to Watch. Jenny is a born-and-raised Texan. She grew up in Austin, obtained her undergraduate degree in Waco, attended law school in Dallas, completed a federal clerkship in Midland and now calls Dallas her home. Daughter and granddaughter of attorneys, Jenny says law was a natural pursuit.
Jenny graduated with a degree in English and Political Science from Baylor University in 2011. At the end of her four years at Baylor, she was interested in applying to law school, but not convinced. She worked at a law firm for a year following graduation to obtain practical experience before making that decision. A strong legal market and close family members drew Jenny to Dallas. She enrolled in the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University, where she ultimately graduated cum laude in 2015.
Upon graduation, Jenny clerked for Magistrate Judge David B. Fannin of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Pecos and Alpine Division. She honed her research and writing skills working on both civil and criminal matters during her two-year clerkship. She also observed firsthand how key national issues, particularly immigration, were adjudicated in local courts. Jenny developed close relationships with other attorneys and judges in West Texas that she still maintains today.
Jenny returned to Dallas in 2017 to work as an associate at Cobb Martinez Woodward PLLC, a litigation firm. There, she practices professional liability, employment and construction law. She enjoys applying her litigation skills to a variety of subject matters.
Back in Dallas, Jenny joined DAYL to connect with other young lawyers and develop her legal expertise. Jenny is no stranger to participating in service organizations. She was a Girl Scout through her senior year of high school (and obtained the organization’s highest honor, the Gold Award.) She was also an active member of her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi. DAYL allows Jenny to work with others to achieve larger goals in our community. DAYL “makes our profession and our city better,” she says. She is a member of the Judiciary Committee, playing an active role in planning and executing events like Coffee with the Court, Social with the Judges, and Dinner with the Judiciary. Jenny has also volunteered for the Law Student Assistance Committee and is running in her first Freedom Run this month.
Notably, Jenny is an all-star member of the 2018 Leadership Class. The Leadership Class program has increased her awareness of our city’s great need for young lawyers’ time, resources, and expertise. As a young lawyer, she acknowledges the natural tendency to become career-obsessed. She has enjoyed collaborating with her class members to escape the professional grind and focus on something greater: our neighbors in need.
The 2018 Leadership Class project is a cultural and food festival called “Tastes from the Heart.” The event will raise money for Heart House, an educational non-profit organization serving refugee children in Dallas who are adapting to life in a new country. It will be held on November 16, 2019, at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park from 12pm to 4pm. There, attendees will be entertained with ethnic food, music and dance performances that celebrate the diverse cultures within our city. As an east Dallas resident, Jenny is particularly passionate about serving these nearby refugee families. Jenny has undertaken the hardest assignment for this project, fundraising. She is the one who sends emails, makes cold calls, and writes letters to individuals and businesses in search of event sponsors—an often grueling and thankless task. But she does not complain or seek our praise. Please consider donating to the event here: https://tastesfromtheheart.com/.
Outside of DAYL, Jenny enjoys spending time outdoors—camping, backpacking, and hiking. Some of her favorite destinations are here in Texas, particularly Big Bend National Park. She is also an active member of Eastside Community Church and volunteers in the children’s ministry.
We need more Jenny Smileys in our profession and our community, which is why she is this month’s One to Watch. Jenny, thank you for all the time and energy you have devoted to DAYL in such a short time; your impact will last for years to come.