University of San Diego School of Law
I have handled a number of lawsuits and trials involving oil and gas contracts and development in California, Utah and Alaska. In San Diego most of my cases involved business and real property disputes, including fights over appropriate investments by a national securities firm, defending insurance companies sued for bad faith, lease, boundary and title disputes, and similar cases. I represented Hong Kong citizens who had invested in San Diego real property. Probate litigation has included disputes between siblings who inherited a number of businesses, as well as “pre-probate” litigation where the family starts fighting before the parent has passed.
I began working at Seltzer Caplan during law school and stayed there for 35 years, becoming a member of the firm after only four years. I was also a member of the Executive Committee and was chairwoman of the Real Property Practice Group. After leaving Seltzer Caplan in early 2013, I formed my own firm Smith Chavez Law, a boutique firm taking advantage of my extensive background in litigation, real property and probate litigation, as well as both litigation and transactional work in the area of oil and gas law, throughout the Western United States and Alaska.
*Executive Committee of the SDCBA Real Property Section, and past chairwoman of the section
*Member, Board of Directors of the Foothills Bar Association
*Member, Advisory Panel of the Federal Bar Association
*Master in the American Inns of Court
*Member, Association of Business Trial Lawyers
*Lead author, California Real Property Litigation (3 volumes)
*Member, Thomas More Society
*Certified as woman-owned business.
*Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
*Member, California Association of Surveyors
*Immediate past president of National Association of Women Business Owners – San Diego
*Lady Commander, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem
*Member of San Diego Realtors Association
*Member, Pacific Southwest Realtors Association
*Former member, Board of Directors Mercy Hospital Auxiliary and Foundation
*Former member, Board of Directors YWCA of San Diego and Imperial
*Former member, Board of Directors San Diego City College Foundation
I was raised in the San Fernando Valley, long before “Valley Girls” became popular. I went to Santa Clara University, earning a history degree, after a detour to study in Vienna, Austria, and a short stint in Lebanon. After a few years of minimal employment and travel, I went to USD Law School. My two daughters are grown (one is a paralegal, the other is a therapist), and I have three very tall grown stepsons. When I have time, I head to remote deserts in the Far East and dig up dinosaur bones far away from email and telephones.
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