Personal Injury

Wrongful Death


90% of Practice Devoted to Litigation


Florida, 1994

U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida

U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida


University of Florida College of Law, Gainesville, Florida – 1994

Honors: With Honors

University of California

B.A., History with Highest Honors


American Bar Association, Member

American Association for Justice, Member

Florida Justice Association, Member

Florida Justice Association, Board of Directors, 2003 – 2006

Florida Justice Association, Chair of Women’s Caucus Section, 2004 – 2005

Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association, Board of Directors, 2005 – Present

Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association, President, 2012-2013


Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Kappa Phi

Phi Alpha Theta

Dawn M. Vallejos‑Nichols

Dawn Vallejos-Nichols brings a set of skills, experience and commitment to her job that make her the sort of lawyer everyone hopes to have in critical times of personal injury or loss.

Dawn graduated with Honors from the University of Florida College of Law in 1994.

Since joining Avera & Smith in 1996, Dawn has represented Florida’s injured in personal injury cases of almost every description.

Dawn’s primary focus at the firm now is wrongful death and personal injury litigation against tobacco manufacturing giants R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Philip Morris USA Inc. Dawn played an instrumental role in winning three of the most significant cases in recent years with verdicts against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company – one verdict for $34.7 million, another for $15.5 million and yet another for $3.75 million. Another successful verdict was rendered against both R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris for $3 million.

These cases received national attention and set an important precedent for all attorneys who battle the endless resources and limitless dollars that tobacco companies use in their efforts to deny victims who have suffered illness and death from the use of their products. To date, Dawn has been involved in the trial of 9 tobacco cases and is currently working to bring more cases to trial this year.

Dawn has served on the Board of Directors of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association continuously since 2005 and served as its President from 2012-13. She has also edited the EJCBA’s monthly newsletter, Forum 8, since 2005 and received the President’s Award for Service for that publication in 2007. She is also a member of the Gerald T. Bennett American Inns of Court and serves at the “Master” level. In the community, she served for several years as a member of the Constituency Board for CARD, the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.

In both 2016 and 2017, Dawn was honored by the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys as one of the 10 Best Female Attorneys for Client Satisfaction in North Florida.