Supreme Court advocate Smith speaks at Library

At 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC) hosts “A conversation with Flint Hill resident and appellate lawyer Paul Smith” as part of its Second Friday at the Library Series.

Paul Smith has been a Supreme Court advocate for nearly three decades, and has argued 14 cases before the court on issues ranging from free speech and civil rights to civil procedure. Among his important victories are Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark gay rights case, and Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, which established the First Amendment rights of video game producers.

NPR’s longtime Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg calls Smith “incredibly elegant” and says, “He’s certainly in the absolute top echelon of people who argue Supreme Court appeals.”

Supreme Court advocate Paul Smith of Flint Hill. Courtesy photo.
Supreme Court advocate Paul Smith of Flint Hill. Courtesy photo.

Totenberg, who covers American legal affairs at NPR, is effusive in her description of Smith’s advocacy. “He writes like a dream. His briefs are just beautiful. … He deals with the problems he has to deal with. I would say that a high-school student could read his briefs and understand the basic issues – and that’s a compliment.”

As for Smith’s arguments before the court, Totenberg says, “There might be a dozen” – including Smith – who “argue cases regularly and have incredible strengths as advocates before the court. It matters who makes these arguments because, while you can’t necessarily win by your oral argument, you sure as hell can lose.”

Chambers USA has repeatedly named Smith one of the country’s leading lawyers in the areas of appellate litigation, media and entertainment law, and first amendment litigation.  In 2010, Washingtonian magazine recognized him as one of “Washington’s Top Lawyers,” Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer named him one of the “Top 10 Lawyers in D.C.” and The National Law Journal named him one of the “Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers.”  Best Lawyers named him the Washington, D.C. First Amendment lawyer of the year for 2012.  Smith was also awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities for his work promoting civil rights and civil liberties.  

Smith is currently a partner at Jenner & Block’s Washington, D.C. office and is a member of the firm’s litigation department. At the library series on Nov. 9, Smith will talk about how he became a Supreme Court specialist, his arguments before the court and important cases that the court will consider in its upcoming term.

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