From band to bench

NJC profile: Steve Smith

When he first started in private practice in 1977, Steve Smith called himself an “accidental lawyer.”

Smith had originally enrolled in Abilene Christian University to study music and become a band director. The self-described “fair” French horn player did receive his music education degree, but he was encouraged by a friend to attend law school. That led to him earning a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. He went into private practice and, ultimately, landed on the bench.

Accidental, his legal career may have been, but Smith has been intentional in advancing the cause of the judiciary ever since.

He has served the past 20 years on the bench of the 361st District Court in Bryan, Texas. After studying at the NJC, he joined the College’s faculty in 2003. Last year he completed his service as a General Jurisdiction representative on the Faculty Council, having served as the council’s chair in 2016.

His commitment to the judiciary goes beyond teaching, too. In 2016 he created an endowment to fund scholarships for Texas judges to attend the NJC.

“The judiciary is often the forgotten branch of government, yet it is so important to the freedoms that we enjoy,” he says. “I want us to have the best judges we can. An entity like the NJC helps ensure that we will have well-educated, competent and fair judges in all the courts in our country.”

Despite the demands of the bench, Smith still finds time for his musical passion. He occasionally leads worship music at his church and has conducted the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra on a few occasions.

This piece was originally published in the College’s 2016 Annual Report to Stakeholders.

If you would like to help ensure that we continue to have “well-educated, competent and fair judges” – you can make a contribution to the NJC by clicking here

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