Paul Smith ’76, P’09, was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2016. He is a Distinguished Visiting Professor from Practice at Georgetown Law School and Vice President for Litigation and Strategy at the Campaign Legal Center, which seeks to protect voting rights, to defend reasonable campaign finance regulation, and the enforce government ethics rules. Before taking these positions in 2017, he practiced law at the firm of Jenner & Block LLP, where he became one of the most prominent Supreme Court advocates of his generation. He has handled many cases involving civil rights and civil liberties, notably in the areas of free speech, voting rights and gay rights. He has argued 21 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including the landmark gay-rights case Lawrence v. Texas and Brown v. EMA, which established the First Amendment rights of video game producers.
A political science major at Amherst, Smith graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa before earning his law degree at Yale. He began his career as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr.
Smith has received multiple awards for his work promoting civil rights and civil liberties, including the 2010 Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association. He is a member and former chair of the board of the American Constitution Society, and a former member and co-chair of the board of Lambda Legal. He also is on the boards of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Castleton Festival, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
He has served Amherst as class chair for the 1821 Society and has regularly participated in the Colloquium on the Constitution and the Imagining of America. Amherst awarded him an honorary degree in 2015.
Smith is married to Michael Dennis and has two children, Samuel and Scott ’09.