Stephen Ray Smith


Stephen Ray Smith has been a complex civil litigation and transactional practitioner in Texas for over 35 years. His wide range of experience includes representing clients in commercial construction disputes, insurance matters, corporate securities, corporate start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, and real estate. Steve is AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory.

Steve attended Texas A&M University, and, in 1983, received his Bachelor of Science in Economics with Honors. Thereafter, Steve attended law school at the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated with his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1986. Following law school, Steve worked as an associate attorney with an area firm until 1997, when he became a founding partner at the law firm of Christian & Smith, LLP (later known as Christian, Smith & Jewell, LLP).  Most recently, he is a founding partner of Legist.

As the son of a forty-year contractor and owner of several businesses in the greater Houston area, Steve has a special appreciation for contractors and small business owners of all types.  Steve has particular expertise in real estate and construction.  He has represented various types of contractors and business owners for over 30 years. Steve also has experience as an owner and a developer of commercial and residential real estate projects. Steve has represented owners and developers in projects ranging from downtown office buildings to residential subdivisions.

Selected Client Representations

Steve has litigated over 350 business and construction related matters. He has extensive first chair trial experience of approximately 50 cases, almost all being jury trials.  A representative sample of the cases and the issues litigated include:

Business Litigation Matters

  • Litigated deceptive trade practices cases involving the sale of new and used equipment
  • Worked on real estate development and partnership dispute litigation
  • Represented clients in numerous cases involving issues regarding the existence of trade secrets and misuse and theft of trade secrets
  • Extensive experience with the firm’s stock fraud related cases including improper market manipulation, illegal and naked short selling, improper shorting activities and fraudulent financing of small publicly traded companies
  • Represented a court appointed receiver in a partition action concerning the sale of separate tracts totaling approximately $35MM
  • Represented an oil field services company in successfully fending off fraudulent investor/purchaser attempts to take over the company through a disputed reverse merger into a publicly traded company
  • Represented surviving family members in a wrongful death case asserting negligence and gross negligence due to a failure to provide proper workplace security
  • Represented creditors/prior owners of a Bakken Oil field environmental waste subsidiary of a publicly traded company in multiple venue state court litigation and bankruptcy court litigation to successfully enforce their priority rights and defeat competing creditor claims 
  • Represented numerous publicly traded clients in multiple stock fraud cases involving allegations of naked short selling, fraud, RICO and violations of credit facilities
  • Represented multiple surviving family members asserting two wrongful deaths against a major international oil company regarding work performed in Africa and failed security for workers resulting in settlements totaling eight figures
  • Successfully represented a large regional trucking company against the largest diesel engine manufacturer and a major tractor truck manufacturer in a newly released engine and truck defect case involving a dozen new trucks. The two week jury trial resulted in a seven figure verdict involving lost profits, diminution in value and repair costs
  • Represented over 270 royalty owners in multiple royalty cases throughout the state against several major oil companies that failed to properly pay royalties and obtaining various settlements exceeding $10MM
  • Represented children of a decedent against a purported spouse of the decedent to obtain their rightful inheritance 
  • Represented NASA shuttle contractor in a ‘whistleblower’ case filed by former employee alleging that faulty work by the contractor caused a shuttle crash

Construction Related Litigation

  • Represented a contractor in a breach of contract/breach of warranty case involving the construction of a new manufacturing/shipping facility and regional headquarters for a national lumber chain and obtained a seven figure verdict for client while defeating all counterclaims
  • Represented a general contractor in a case involving $14MM in claimed damages arising out of a bulkhead replacement project, including issues of replacement cost, damages to adjoining buildings and structures and lost profits
  • Represented a contractor against a the manufacturer of a concrete plasticizer additive in a case involving a failed tank wall at a new plant facility
  • Asserted claims for damage to work arising from differing site conditions and faulty geotechnical studies in an intercoastal waterway installation
  • Prosecuted or defended improper design claims and testing of asphaltic concrete leading to faulty construction and degradation of the asphalt in a major manufacturing and shipping facility
  • Litigated mechanic’s and materialmen’s lien issues under both government and private work contracts, including, residential, industrial and commercial projects
  • Litigated damages caused by construction failures of various materials, including concrete and asphalt
  • Represented clients regarding OSHA violations, including death cases arising out of unsafe operation of equipment and faulty equipment
  • Litigated damages caused by owner, general contractor and subcontractor delays
  • Represented clients regarding work interference claims asserted by subcontractors against owners, general contractors and other subcontractors
  • Asserted owner damage claims arising out of contractor deviations from plans and specifications
  • Represented an owner in an arbitration concerning a contractor’s abandonment of the project mid-way through the project
  • Represented numerous subcontractors in asserting and defending claims of non-payment and assertion of rights under mechanic’s lien, trust fund and prompt payment statutes 
  • Obtained a seven figure jury verdict for a building owner against a contractor in a breach of contract dispute
  • Represented a contractor against an owner proving active owner interference and recovering increased costs to the contractor at a refinery
  • Represented multiple condominium owners in a 20+ story high rise building defects case against the developer, engineers, architects and their carriers

State and Federal Court Admissions and Professional Affiliations

  • United States District Court, Southern District of Texas
  • United States District Court, Western District of Texas
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Houston Bar Association

Steve enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, hunting, and promoting the Texas A&M Aggies in football and baseball.  He served as a volunteer in numerous local charities, youth sports organizations, and the PTSD Foundation of America, including its Houston counseling center, Camp Hope.