• London School of Economics (M.S., 1969)
  • Harvard Law School (J.D., 1968), magna cum laude; Editor of the Harvard Law Review; Knox Fellowship
  • Claremont Men's College (B.A., 1965), summa cum laude

Gregory Smith is a partner emeritus of Irell & Manella LLP and a resident in the Los Angeles office. He is certified as an Appellate Specialist by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, is a member of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and chaired the firm's appellate group until becoming partner emeritus in 2009. He is a past chair of the California State Bar Committee on Appellate Courts, and a past member of the Ninth Circuit Advisory Committee on Rules of Practice and Internal Operating Procedures. He was one of four attorney members of the Ninth Circuit Ad Hoc Appellate Advocacy Committee, whose goal was to improve the advocacy skills of attorneys. The committee produced a videotape on Ninth Circuit advocacy which the Ninth Circuit suggests be reviewed by all attorneys having matters before that court.

Mr. Smith has handled hundreds of appellate matters, including matters before the United States Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, the Delaware Supreme Court, the Nevada Supreme Court, and various of the federal circuit courts. He has practiced extensively before both the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Courts of Appeal.

Mr. Smith has taught on appellate law, legal ethics, and legal writing.  His articles on appellate law have appeared in a number of publications including the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the Orange County Federal Bar Association Newsletter.  Mr. Smith was selected for inclusion in Southern California “Super Lawyers” by Los Angeles Magazine in 2004 through 2017 and in The Best Lawyers in America for appellate law in 2007 through 2017.

Mr. Smith handles complex appeals in a wide variety of cases. These have included appeals in cases involving corporate governance, entertainment law, insurance law, securities fraud, real estate, Indian gaming law, attorney malpractice, and environmental law.

Mr. Smith also has expertise on legal ethics, advising and representing law firms in connection with ethical issues. He was the firm's principal ethicist until becoming partner emeritus in 2009. He is a past member of the Los Angeles County Bar Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee.

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Representative Matters

A number of the cases in which Mr. Smith has been involved have resulted in important published opinions. For example, in City of Hope National Medical Center v. Genentech (2008) 43 Cal.4th 375, Mr. Smith represented plaintiff City of Hope in connection with the California Supreme Court’s upholding the largest contract award in the history of the State of California. In Ortiz v. Lyon Management Group, Inc. (2007) 157 Cal.App.4th 604, the Court of Appeal upheld Mr. Smith’s position that the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act was unconstitutionally vague as applied to tenant screening reports containing unlawful detainer information. In HLC Properties Limited, et al., v. Superior Court (MCA Records, Inc., et al.) (2005) 35 Cal.4th 54, the California Supreme Court upheld Mr. Smith’s argument that, under California Evidence Code § 953, the attorney-client privilege terminates when the executor or administrator of the client's estate is discharged, and the fact that the decedent operated his affairs with employees is irrelevant to this conclusion. In O'Melveny & Myers v. FDIC, 114 S.Ct. 2048 (1994), the United States Supreme Court upheld the position advanced by Mr. Smith on behalf of the O'Melveny law firm that, absent extraordinary circumstances, claims brought by the FDIC were governed by state, not federal, law. In U.S. v. 103 Electronic Gambling Devices (9th Cir. 2000) 223 F.3d 1091, and U.S. v. 162 Megamania Gambling Devices (10th Cir. 2000) 231 F.3d 713, Mr. Smith established the principle that certain electronic bingo games were Class II and could be conducted in the absence of tribal-state compacts under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and that technologic aids to bingo were not prohibited in Indian country by the Johnson Act. In Professional Engineers in California Government v. Department of Transportation (1997) 63 Cal. 4th 543, Mr. Smith represented the Department in the California Supreme Court in a challenge to the rules generally barring the state from contracting with private entities. In Shields v. Singleton (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 1611, the court adopted Mr. Smith's arguments and placed strict limitations on the bringing of derivative suits against corporate directors. In the relatively early environmental case of Cadillac Fairview v. Dow Chemical Co., 840 F.2d 691 (9th Cir. 1988), Mr. Smith established the important principle that a private cause of action was permissible under CERCLA to recover costs expended in connection with the cleanup of hazardous substances, notwithstanding the complete absence of governmental involvement, action, or impetus.

A number of amici curiae briefs filed by Mr. Smith have also been influential. In American Insurance Association v. Garamendi, 123 S.Ct. 2374 (2003), Mr. Smith represented Bet Tzedek Legal Services in an amicus brief arguing to uphold California's Holocaust Victims Insurance Relief Act of 1999. In Smith v. Robbins, 120 S.Ct. 746 (2000), Mr. Smith represented 13 retired justices of the California Court of Appeal in an amicus brief filed in the United States Supreme Court. That brief was cited both by the majority and by the dissent. In Boyd Gaming Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 177 F.3d 1096 (9th Cir. 1997), the reasoning of Mr. Smith's amicus brief provided the basis of the court's holding that expanded the right of employers to deduct the cost of on-site meals. In Cole v. Fair Oaks Fire Protection District (1987) 43 Cal. 3d 148, the California Supreme Court adopted the arguments advanced in Mr. Smith's amicus brief and held that an employee may not maintain a civil action in the courts for intentional infliction of emotional distress against his employer when the conduct complained of has caused mental and physical disability compensable under workers' compensation law; instead, such claims are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.

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Professional Activities

  • California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, California State Bar Committee on Appellate Courts (past chair), Ninth Circuit Advisory Committee on Rules of Practice and Internal Operating Procedures; Los Angeles County Bar Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee
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Community Involvement

  • Past member, Los Angeles Jewish Federation Board of Directors
  • Past Chair, Synagogue Funding Committee of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation
  • Past President, Los Angeles Hillel Council
  • Founder and several times President, Westwood Kehilla Synagogue
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Bar & Court Admissions

  • 1969, State Bar of California
  • 1976, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; 1987, U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit; 1988, U.S. Supreme Court