ON Thursday, Nov. 7, Pre-Law Society and Young Republicans welcomed Texas State Representative REGGIE SMITH to his alma mater to share how his career in law led to an opportunity in public service.
Originally from Sherman, Rep. Reggie Smith graduated from Austin College in 1991 with a B.S. in Political Science before earning his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston in 1994 and returning home to practice law.
Rep. Smith became elected to serve as the State Representative for District 62 in 2018. Before this, he’d served two terms as the chairman of the Grayson County Republican Party. About this chairman position, he said, “It was nothing but sacrifice, and I enjoyed every bit of it.” Interestingly, he had no intention of running for state representative until the Republican candidate dropped out.
When Rep. Smith expressed interest in running for state legislature twenty years ago, he recalled the best advice he’s ever received in terms of politics: “Pay your dues, and watch for the doors to open. And don’t be picky about the doors.” This conversation led to Smith involving himself in poll watching and Republican Party events.
He stepped away from politics for ten years to focus on law practice and his three children and wife until the doors to becoming chairman and later representative began to open.
And he walked through every door.
Now, he’s just finished his first term as a member of the Republican Party in the Texas House. During his talk with students, Rep. Smith addressed the current gridlock between Democrats and Republicans in Washington by discussing his own success on the Texas House floor that he often shares with Democrat lawmakers. Working with both Democrat and Republican lawmakers, Rep. Smith was able to address public education, tax reform for property taxes, and 1,400 other issues. “. . . [E]ven though the Republicans only have an eight-seat margin . . . out of 150 folks in the Texas House–and then there’s 19 Republicans out of the 31 in the Texas Senate–we were still able to pass some big legislation [because] we worked together.”
“Pay your dues, and watch for the doors to open. And don’t be picky about the doors.”
From his talk, Reggie Smith hopes he encourages students to continue working hard. “Whether you want to go into elected politics or you want to go into law, keep working hard.” He recommends that students consider practicing law, calling it “the most practical education of all time. You can do anything with a law degree . . . You come out of that knowing more about business and life and rural and municipalities and property and all the things that affect everyday life.”
Why is this so important? “We need good, ethical, grounded, driven individuals,” Smith says, “to practice law to continue to keep our legal system strong. You can have all these laws passed in the legislature . . . you can have the most beautiful courthouses and spend gazillions on infrastructure for these courthouses. But at the end of the day, the interaction between lawyer and client is the most important thing, and the quality of that lawyer as an individual is going to make a difference.”
And regarding politics, Rep. Smith believes you can’t have a quality legislature “. . . unless part of it is made up of quality attorneys because you’re always going to have attorneys in the legislature.”
Looking to become an intern? Rep. Smith strongly encourages you! “There’s actually more power and influence involved in being an intern than you might realize. Like anything else, it just starts from doing the groundwork. You don’t start at the top, and you start cultivating relationships.”
Whatever you do, have patience. “Pay your dues. Do the meaningless work.”
And maybe one day you’ll sit next to Reggie Smith in the Texas House.