BARBARA JO SMITH

“ANSWERS TO LEGAL QUESTIONS are rarely black and white. Helping clients understand the nuances is important so that they can make decisions based on their own facts, circumstances, and feelings. There is no one right answer for everyone.”

About Me

I love my job as a lawyer because I love learning. Working as a lawyer provides an endless opportunity to learn. The laws, facts, and the people are constantly changing. The opportunity for continuous learning attracted me to the law in the first place, as the legal profession seemed like one that would never become repetitive. Almost twenty years later, that has certainly proven to be the case.

In addition to learning, I enjoy conveying that knowledge to others. Answers to legal questions are rarely black and white. Helping clients understand the nuances is important so that they can make decisions based on their own facts, circumstances, and feelings. There is no one right answer for everyone. My theory is that if a client knows the basis for a decision, then as facts change the client will have a better idea of when he or she needs to call for more advice or an update in planning.

My love of learning and teaching also extends to activities outside the law. When not working, I enjoy exploring the flora, fauna and geology of the Pacific Northwest during hikes with my husband, son and various groups, including Boy Scouts. During our outings, my husband looks for the deer and elk trails, my son likes the snakes, frogs and newts, and I try to find the flowers and butterflies. Alas, sometimes Oregon trails yield only slugs for the day, but that is fine too.

My Legal Work

The most exciting part of my work is structuring the estate plan, the business succession plan, or the business transaction to meet the client’s desires, make the deal happen, and to minimize taxes. I focus on the following legal areas:

Professional Activities and Community Involvement

I have been active in a number of professional organizations related to my practice areas throughout the years. I have taken my turn at the helm of the Willamette Valley Estate Planning Council (http://www.wvepc.org/), an organization that promotes education across all disciplines involved in a client’s estate planning. I have also served as a member of the Oregon State Bar Tax Section Executive Committee for a number of years and am currently its Chair-Elect.

In addition, I have served as an adjunct professor at Willamette University College of Law, teaching the Estate and Gift Tax course, and have spoken at a variety of Oregon State Bar and Willamette Valley Estate Planning Council sponsored continuing education courses. In addition to my professional activities, I have also been active in several community groups in Salem. I have served as a leader of the Exchange Club of Salem (http://exchangeclubsofsalemor.org/), a national service club. My main involvement with the group these days is running the Amazing Teen Race at the annual Foster Family Picnic and organizing the club’s Salvation Army Bell Ringing day. I have also served on the board of Salem Chamber Orchestra, greatly expanding my musical knowledge.

Education

Washington University School of Law (St. Louis, Missouri), 1994

  • Top 10% of Class
  • Washington University Law Review, Articles Editor

William Jewell College (Liberty, Missouri), 1991

  • B.A. (Institutions and Policy)