Thought Leadership / News
January 10, 2023 
 Press Releases
Four Gray Reed Attorneys Earn Board Certification

Gray Reed is pleased to announce that four Gray Reed lawyers passed the challenging and prestigious 2022 Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) exams. Partner Joe Virene and Counsel Tim Fandrey are Board Certified in Construction Law, Partner Joshua Smeltzer is Board Certified in Tax Law and Partner Jeff Watters is Board Certified in Estate Planning & Probate Law. 

Virene combines deep industry knowledge with efficient dispute-resolution skills in and out of the courtroom to help clients navigate the various challenges that arise during sophisticated construction projects. With broad experience handling every issue and dispute imaginable – contract negotiation and drafting, payment disputes, lien filings, suspensions and delays, construction and design defect claims, plus many more – Virene is well-equipped to guide clients through projects from start to finish. His client list runs the gamut of businesses working on industrial, pipeline, oil field and general construction projects, including suppliers, distributors, subcontractors, general contractors, project owners and engineers.

Fandrey, as a lawyer and former civil engineer, has a strong understanding of the legal, technical, and business challenges that clients face in the construction industry. His practice is primarily focused on helping general contractors, subcontractors, property owners and developers resolve the wide variety of claims and litigation that can arise in commercial and residential construction projects, including payment disputes, lien and bond claims, delay in performance claims, productivity claims, construction and design defects plus many more.

Virene and Fandrey are the firm's only construction attorneys who are Board Certified by the TBLS.

Formerly a tax litigator for the U.S. Department of Justice, Smeltzer defends clients in tax audits, tax appeals, and litigation in Federal District Court, U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and tax issues in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. He also represents individuals, corporations, partnerships, and estates in a variety of tax issues involving tax reporting for cryptocurrency and foreign bank accounts, captive insurance arrangements, investments in conservation easements, charitable donations, a variety of tax deduction and tax credit disputes, as well as various transactions involving cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

Smeltzer is one of the firm's two TBLS Board Certified tax attorneys.

Watters focuses on trusts and estates litigation and administration matters for clients throughout Texas. His litigation practice is largely devoted to resolving fiduciary duty claims arising from the administration of trusts and estates, a unique and challenging area of law where significant dollar amounts are typically at stake and no two cases are ever alike. He also takes lead on a variety of traditional trust and estate litigation matters, including will contests, will interpretation suits and accounting disputes, from the filing of the petition all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. 

The firm now has a total of nine TBLS Board Certified trust & estate attorneys.

Gray Reed has a total of 33 board certified attorneys across several areas of law including Bankruptcy; Civil Appellate; Civil Trial; Commercial Real Estate; Construction; Estate Planning & Probate; Family Law; Health; Labor & Employment; Oil, Gas and Mineral Law; and Tax.  

TBLS Board Certification is a voluntary designation program certifying Texas attorneys in 27 specific areas of law. Out of 110,000 lawyers that are licensed to practice in Texas, only 7,200 are Board Certified. These lawyers have voluntarily applied for board certification, have a minimum of five years of practice experience (with at least three years in specific legal areas), completed at least 60 hours of continuing legal education, and passed a rigorous exam. Once certified, these lawyers meet additional criteria to continue their education and involvement in their specialty area as well as reapply for Board Certification every five years.

About Gray Reed

A full-service Texas law firm with offices in Dallas, Houston, and Waco, Gray Reed provides legal services to companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 as well as high-net-worth individuals. Gray Reed attorneys assist clients with a myriad of legal issues including commercial litigation, corporate transactions, oil and gas, tax planning and litigation, real estate, construction, healthcare, trusts and estates, employment law, family law, intellectual property and bankruptcy. For more information, visit