Litigation can be stressful and expensive. Elizabeth Smith-Chavez' passion is resolving disputes before delays and costs of litigation make everyone a loser. In 2014 and in 2015, she was named San Diego's Top Real Estate Conflict Resolution attorney by San Diego Magazine. After 37 years of experience in every type of business and real estate dispute, Smith-Chavez knows how emotional and disruptive such disputes can be, and that speedy attention and resolution is critical.
After practicing in a big downtown law firm for over three decades, Smith-Chavez formed her own firm to give her clients the benefit of her years of experience without the costs and overhead of a big law firm. She relocated to East County in 2014 to be close to her La Mesa home and to many of her clients who live in the area (although she continues to practice throughout the County and elsewhere). Smith Chavez Law has been certified as a woman-owned business by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and the California Public Utilities Commission.
Smith-Chavez literally wrote the book on the subject of real estate litigation. She is the lead author of a 3-volume publication, California Real Property Litigation, and is a former chair of the San Diego County Bar Association Real Property Section, where she remains on the Executive Committee. She teaches numerous seminars on the subjects of real property, ethics in the practice of law, civil litigation and related fields. She recently returned from Reno where she taught a convention of surveyors about the pitfalls of being an expert witness.
Smith-Chavez jokes that she is a "Valley Girl," growing up in the San Fernando Valley. As soon as she graduated from high school, she headed off to experience the world, at Santa Clara University and a year in Vienna, Austria. "The advantage of having no money was that I was forced to travel to lesser known places, mostly behind the then Iron Curtain where people would literally take me into their homes to find out about the rest of the world." Smith-Chavez even enjoyed a stint teaching English in the Middle East. "Those experiences gave me a deeper understanding into the diversity of world and life views, experiences that help me in dealing with clients, opposing parties, judges and jurors."
After graduating from college, Smith-Chavez went to the University of San Diego, where she was on the law review and graduated first in her class. Since then, she has been active in the legal community — a Master in the American Inns of Court (where a program she presented received a national award for excellence), a Director of the Foothills Bar Association, on the Advisory Committee for the Federal Bar Association, a member of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers and of the San Diego Defense Lawyers, an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, a member of its Construction Industry Advisory Council and an instructor for Advanced Arbitration Training, among other activities.
Recognizing that life does not start and end with the law, Smith-Chavez is an active participant in her community. As a Board member and President of the YWCA for San Diego, she worked hard to support abused women, including the formation of Becky's House. She has been a Board member for the Mercy Hospital Foundation, the Mercy Hospital Auxiliary (where she was President), and the San Diego City College Foundation. She is currently President of the National Association of Women Business Owners – San Diego, as well as an active member of the San Diego Association of Realtors, the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors, and the East County Chamber of Commerce where she is a member of the Ambassador's Council.
These activities, and her excellence as an attorney, have resulted in numerous awards, including the San Diego Business Journal Women Who Mean Business award in the field of law.
The travel bug never left Smith-Chavez, who spent months in remote places such as Mongolia and China with paleontologist friends, digging up dinosaurs. She is certainly the only attorney in San Diego with dinosaur poop and bones in her office.
Smith Chavez Law specializes in resolving business, real property and probate disputes, as well as most aspects of oil and gas law. Smith-Chavez' practice covers every area of real property disputes, ranging from boundary and construction problems to purchase and sale problems to large "bet the company" lawsuits.