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Laura N. Rinaldi Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year: David C. Smith

By Tracy Schorn

June 6, 2017

David C. Smith, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP partner David C. Smith will be honored as a co-recipient of the Laura N. Rinaldi Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award at the D.C. Bar Celebration of Leadership on June 14 at the Mayflower Hotel. Smith will be honored alongside Daniele Schiffman of Skadden Arps LLP

The award recognizes the exceptional commitment of a lawyer serving low-income clients in the District of Columbia.

Throughout his 17-year career with Kilpatrick Townsend, Smith has demonstrated a strong dedication to pro bono service. Aside from his pro bono work in the District, Smith is known for his expertise in representing Native Americans in matters involving trust mismanagement, treaty rights, and protection of sacred sites, as well as specializing in commercial litigation and major class actions.

“I am deeply honored to be receiving this award,” said Smith. “As a young man growing up in the D.C. area I had great role models like Judge Jim Robertson, past president of the D.C. Bar and co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. [Those lawyers] exemplified the best of the legal profession. They served with professionalism and integrity, recognizing that as lawyers they had a responsibility to assist those who lacked the means to hire counsel. They used their skills to address pervasive discrimination and understood that assisting those in need was an integral part of practicing law.”

“Today, the need of legal advocates for the indigent has only increased both in the criminal and civil practice areas. I am privileged to work with friends at Kilpatrick Townsend who adhere to those high standards of the profession and address injustice where needed, whether advocating for children, fighting discrimination, assisting immigrants denied entry due to their religion, investigating cases of wrongful incarceration or protecting the rights of Native Americans,” said Smith.

Demonstrating his commitment to pro bono services, in 2016, Smith completed 538 hours of direct representation for low-income clients and community-based nonprofit groups. On top of representing the Kiowa Tribes of Oklahoma on a pro bono basis in a dispute with a natural gas company, Smith also provided pro bono representation to a transgender woman in a medical discrimination case referred to him from the Legal Services Program at Whitman-Walker Health. His efforts not only succeeded in securing a beneficial outcome for his client, but ultimately led to institutional improvements, greater awareness, and training sessions for medical providers and their staffs.

Tamara Serwer Caldas, national pro bono partner for Kilpatrick Townsend, lauded Smith for having a “profound impact” on the work place culture that supports pro bono work and commended him for being “an incredible role model and mentor for younger attorneys.”

Catherine Munson, managing partner at Kilpatrick Townsend’s Washington, D.C. office, offered these congratulations: “I have known David for more than 10 years and it was apparent early on that giving back to the community is vitally important to him. He is a dedicated advocate for assisting those in need, even with his busy travel schedule, counseling clients across the country in his Native American Affairs practice. Our firm shares David’s strong commitment and responsibility to helping others who cannot afford representation. We are proud to call David a friend and a colleague as he accepts the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award. Congratulations!”

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