Beverly B. Godbey
Dallas Bar Association
Dallas Bar Inaugurates Ms. Godbey 98th President
By Anne Pohli
Beverly Bell Godbey, the Dallas Bar Association’s 98th president, has adopted the theme “Maximum Impact” to describe her plans for the DBA this year. Ms. Godbey says she “envisions broadening and strengthening the existing successful programs of our association.”
One of the endeavors Ms. Godbey cites is the Texas State High School Mock Trial competition. The DBA has organized and administered this program since its inception in the 1980s, and our local expertise will soon be seen on a national stage. In May, the DBA will host the National High School Mock Trial Championship, an honor for which the Dallas Bar was selected in a competitive bidding process.
It is interesting that, in 2007, the presidents of the DBA, State Bar of Texas, American Bar Association, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, Dallas Asian-American Bar Association, Dallas Hispanic Bar Association, and J. L. Turner Legal Association are all women.
Ms. Godbey notes that, at the same time women are achieving broad recognition as leaders in the profession, they are also leaving the legal profession in unprecedented numbers. However, the growing rates of attrition and professional dissatisfaction are not limited to women.
Ms. Godbey and her fellow bar presidents are planning a joint symposium in the fall to examine the underlying issues.
The Minority Attorney Business Development Initiative is another successful DBA program, and many of its concepts will be featured in the symposium. Ms. Godbey says, “We would like to find workable, practical solutions to the problems in the profession that are causing this exodus from the legal community at large.”
Another DBA strength to be promoted in 2007 is the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program. President Godbey says, “DVAP is one of the best pro bono programs in the country,” and she plans to continue Mark Sales’ emphasis on pro bono involvement by the membership.
Ms. Godbey hopes her initiatives will help improve the image of lawyers in the community. In short, “Maximum Impact” will be the result if the DBA membership puts its maximum effort into community service, education, and professional endeavors to positively impact as many people as possible.
Beverly Godbey has already set an outstanding example of the kind of involvement she hopes to promote this year, in both professional and community activities. She is a member of the State Bar Equal Access to Justice Endowment Committee and the DBA Community Service Fund Board, a life fellow of the Texas and Dallas Bar Foundations, a founding fellow of the DAYL Foundation, a former president of the DAYL, a former chair of the Equal Access to Justice Campaign, and a member of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism.
Her community activities include the board of directors of Lakehill Preparatory School, the Junior League of Dallas, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Staff Parish Relations Committee of the First United Methodist Church. She is also a past chair of Attorneys Serving the Community and a former director of the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas.
Beverly was born in Palestine, Texas, in 1958. She had the unusual experience of meeting her grandfather even before being introduced to her parents, as he was the doctor who delivered her. Her parents moved to Dallas when she was only three, so she is practically a native Dallasite. She attended Southern Methodist University, where she majored in foreign languages, including French, Spanish and German.
She began college intending to become a teacher and says of her legal career, “I fell into it by accident.” Beverly’s father, who just happened to be the banker who assisted the DBA in obtaining its loan to acquire the Belo Mansion, was enjoying a game of golf with a partner from a large local law firm. The lawyer mentioned that his firm was in need of legal assistants and asked if Beverly would be interested in a summer job after her freshman year. She took the job and worked for the law firm each summer thereafter.
She graduated, magna cum laude, from SMU in 1979, and by then, she knew she would exchange teaching for law.
She went to law school at Tulane University. She says she was always “the quiet, studious type, not at all the debater,” and not an obvious candidate for trial work. But she participated in Tulane’s mock trial program and found that she enjoyed it. Her final mock trial arguments took place at the Fifth Circuit, a heady atmosphere for a law student, and by the time she had her J.D. in hand in 1982, she knew she would be a trial lawyer. She returned to Dallas to practice and is now a partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP.
Beverly is married to Judge David Godbey, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in 2002.
The Godbeys live in east Dallas, where they juggle their legal careers around raising two children. John, 14, is in the eighth-grade at Lakehill Preparatory School, where he is a competitive tennis player and also enjoys basketball. Ruth, 12, is a seventh-grader at Lakehill. She is also an outstanding dancer, having studied ballet, tap and jazz since she was small. Her enthusiasm for dancing is so great that she talked her mom into a tap class, and Beverly astonished herself by taking up tap dancing at age 40. Beverly also enjoys needlepoint, and she and Ruth are working together on a project with other members of the First United Methodist Church to make covers for all the church kneelers, hopefully to be completed by Christmas 2007.
Beverly Godbey will have a very busy year as DBA president, but she is looking forward to it. “If we are willing to tackle the larger problems and difficult issues, we can make a difference.”
Anne Pohli is an attorney and co-vice chair of the DBA Publications Committee.