AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas School of Law honored Third Court of Appeals Justice Bea Ann Smith, '75, for her judicial career and service to the Law School at a reception in the Jamail Pavilion on Nov. 9.
Speakers at the reception included UT Law Dean Larry Sager, retired Chief Justice Marilyn Aboussie of the Third Court of Appeals, '74, and attorney Scott Atlas, '75.
Dean Sager and the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law hosted the reception to recognize Justice Smith's outstanding public service and her leadership in the Law School's Judicial Internship Program. Smith has served on the Texas Court of Appeals, Third District, in Austin since 1991. She is stepping down from the bench at the end of this year.
Smith earned her J.D. with honors from the Law School where she was Order of the Coif and a member of the Texas Law Review. She was a law clerk to Judge Thomas Gibbs Gee on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Before being elected to the bench, she worked in private practice and served as an adjunct professor at the Law School.
In addition to her service on the bench, Smith has had a distinguished career in public service. She was president of the National Association of Women Judges and currently sits on the board of the directors of the International Association of Women Judges. Smith is also a founding director of Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas and has served the Law School as an adjunct professor and advisor to the Texas Journal of Women and the Law.
Smith has been a leading force behind the Law School's Judicial Internship Program. She had spent six years teaching at the Law School before she joined the Third Court of Appeals and decided to start a judicial internship program at the Court. When the program began in 1992, judges supervised an intern a semester. Over time, the program grew to allow more students to participate. Asked about the judicial internships' benefits, Smith said, "I always stressed to students that the best part of their internships would be the improvement in their writing skills. And I think we lived up to our part of that bargain."
"Justice Smith created a very rigorous internship program that has provided invaluable educational experiences for our students," said Eden Harrington, Director of the Justice Center. "The Court asks our students to perform at the highest level, and they meet the challenge. We are very grateful to Justice Smith for setting the standard so high."
Currently, in the spring and fall semesters the Judicial Internship Program serves 15 to 20 students who intern in Austin with the Third Court of Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, as well as with federal judges, the Travis County Probate Court, and the State Office of Administrative Hearings. In addition to working in the judges' chambers, students participate in a weekly classroom course at the Law School. In 2004, the Law School expanded the summer program to permit students to intern with federal court judges and state appellate judges outside of Austin. More than 60 students have participated each summer. In the last three years, students have worked with 47 state appellate judges in Texas, six state appellate judges in five other states, and 67 federal judges in Texas and across the country.