I’ll quit smoking.’” So she quit the team:
“Though I must say, I quit debating better
than he quit smoking.”
Her debating skills still proved useful,
though, when she got her law degree at
the University of Texas. On a whim, she
interviewed with a firm in Beaumont rather
than a big city. She was so impressed with
Mehaffy Weber that she ended up joining
the team. “They were swamped with work
and happy to give me opportunities and
turn me loose,” Chamblin says. “In 1978,
there weren’t a lot of female lawyers doing
trial work, but these guys were completely
happy to have me.”
A member of the Texas State Bar’s
professional ethics committee, Chamblin
has also served on the Bar’s grievance and
disciplinary rules committees. In addition,
she’s a former president of the Jefferson
County Bar Association, for which she does
pro bono work and which named her Pro
Bono Attorney of the Year in 2004.
In 2010, she won the professionalism
award from the Jefferson Bar—“which is a
big deal,” Smith says—and the prestigious
John H. Hannah Jr. Award for Public
Service, given by the Eastern District of
Texas Bar Association.
As for Clark, she has managed
fundraising events for several local
nonprofit organizations, is president-elect
of the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, and
serves on the board of the Symphony of
Southeast Texas, as well as at Some Other
Place, an agency serving Jefferson County’s
needy and homeless community.
Though she taught high school English
for several years before switching careers,
Mehaffy Weber is “the only law job I’ve ever
had,” Clark says. Having been referred for
an opening at the firm by a professor at
the University of Houston’s law school, she
uses her story to stress the importance of
“It’s the only résumé I’ve ever sent out;
Every life has pivotal days, but Barbara Barron can point to one that was
the only job I ever interviewed for,” Clark
says. “I always tell young people: Never
underestimate any job connection you
have. You never know when one thing you
do can end up with a great result.”
Like Chamblin, Smith has been president
of the Jefferson County Bar Association;
she’s also served as president of the Texas
Association of Defense Counsel. She’s
more so than most.
She and her siblings were first-generation college students, pushed to
succeed by their parents, whose fiscal sense was so ingrained that Barron
earned her undergraduate degree at Baylor in just three years “so I didn’t
have that fourth year of expense.”
Most of her siblings pursued advanced education, but Barron, the
youngest, chose law. When the holidays rolled around during her first
year at the University of Houston Law Center, she peppered every law
firm in Beaumont with résumés, hoping to line up a summer clerkship.
One day that December, a senior business major named George joined
her and a friend of his at their dorm cafeteria. He wore his cowboy hat
the entire time. “I remember thinking he was very rude because he didn’t
take off that hat,” Barron says. Still, there was something about him.
Whenever she would run into George, she’d suggest something like a
game of backgammon—but he wouldn’t take the bait.
In the meantime, she scored her first clerkship interview, with
Mehaffy Weber, set for Jan. 31, 1981. She didn’t have a car, so her parents
agreed to drive the 80 miles from Beaumont to pick her up in Houston
and take her back to Beaumont for the interview.
Then, George finally asked her out to dinner. His proposed day: Jan.
31. Barron’s parents agreed to drive her back to Houston after her
interview, in time for her date.
The day came, and her parents showed up as scheduled in their
yellow Pontiac sedan. Back to Beaumont they went, looking for a
downtown corner to drop her off, out of eyesight of anyone at the
firm. “I really did not want them to think my mom and dad had to
take me there,” Barron recalls.
After the interview, she quietly called her parents for her ride. When they
got back to Houston, flowers from George were waiting at the dorm’s front
desk, with a note saying he hoped all had gone well. The couple went to
dinner, then for drinks at the revolving Hyatt Regency rooftop bar, where
she remembers ordering a drink called the Yellow Rose of Texas.
She scored that clerkship at Mehaffy Weber, joined the firm in 1984 and
has been there ever since. That same year, she married George Perrett,
who eventually explained he didn’t want to take off his cowboy hat that
day because he had “hat head.”
Observes Barron, “My whole life got settled on one day.”
The Day Barbara Barron Found the Right Fit—
in a Hat and a Job