Partner

Clerkships

Hon. Harold H. Greene, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia

Education

Columbia Law School, J.D., 1987

  • Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
  • Murphy Prize for Advocacy

University of North Carolina, B.A., highest honors, 1982

  • Phi Beta Kappa
Photo of Eleanor H. Smith

Eleanor H. Smith

Overview
Experience
News
Affiliations

Since opening up meetings of the National Economic Commission within her first weeks of practicing law, Eleanor H. Smith has been advancing the interests of her clients in and out of court. In her litigation and government relations practice, Ms. Smith has handled a wide variety of matters, including those regarding voting rights, campaign finance and other political activity, information access, privacy, the First Amendment, professional liability, white-collar criminal defense, debarment, gaming, and American Indian law. She has prosecuted and defended cases in trial and appellate courts, represented clients before regulatory agencies, prepared witnesses for congressional hearings, handled parallel proceedings, authored briefs amicus curiae in the U.S. Supreme Court, and negotiated settlements and governmental compacts. Ms. Smith leads the firm’s award-winning pro bono practice. Among the recent honors was recognition as the District of Columbia Bar’s “Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year” in 2010.

Ms. Smith is Secretary of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, serves on the board of directors of DC Appleseed, and is the former co-chair of the District of Columbia Bar’s Administrative Law Section.

Before joining Zuckerman Spaeder, Ms. Smith was a litigator with Public Citizen Litigation Group and a law clerk to the Hon. Harold H. Greene of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Ms. Smith conducted advocacy work for non-governmental organizations favoring the Law of the Sea Treaty before she entered law school.

Professional Highlights

  • Sought intervention on behalf of New York voters in litigation brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to force the New York State Board of Elections to replace its existing lever voting machines with electronic voting machines on the eve of the 2006 election. The DOJ withdrew its request for this relief and instead the state was able to continue to use lever voting machines in the 2006 election and was free thereafter to implement a regulatory regime for the selection and use of alternate voting machines.
  • Secured an emergency court order on behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights requiring the DOJ to publicly produce the secret “ballot security” procedures issued to U.S. Attorneys before the 2004 presidential election. Further disclosures required by the court revealed that the DOJ had revised the manual on the prosecution of federal election crimes to permit the investigation and bringing of election crime prosecutions around election time, a reversal of long-standing practice to prevent the misuse of prosecutorial power to influence an election.
  • Obtained U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs records under FOIA on behalf of a major news company. The records revealed the extent to which veterans were being denied benefits due to delays and other problems in the way that the agency handles benefit claims.
  • Represented voters in Pittsburgh, PA who challenged the last-minute and last-resort selection by Allegheny County of iVotronic touchscreen voting machines for use in the 2006 federal election.
  • On behalf of a major news company, obtained records under FOIA from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding Medicare billings by physicians at the University of Pennsylvania, which were the subject of Physicians at Teaching Hospitals (PATH), a federal healthcare fraud initiative.
  • Represented a senior executive of a major defense contractor in an FCPA case concerning the sale of aircraft to the Egyptian government.
  • Invoked the disclosure provision of the Internal Revenue Code to litigate access to secret contracts—known as advance pricing agreements (APAs)—between various businesses, the IRS, and maybe foreign taxing authorities that provide the transfer pricing methods used by those businesses for related-company transactions, which access was undone when Congress enacted legislation to keep APAs secret.
  • Avoided permanent debarment by the Department of the Air Force of a former senior executive with a major defense contractor.
  • On behalf of a major information bureau, we obtained access to minutes, draft records, and other information of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) that admitted violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act meeting notice and records access requirements.
  • Represented a Native American tribe in negotiating the first gaming compact between the state of New York and a tribe, in developing its gaming and other commercial operations, establishing its tribal courts, written laws and regulations, advancing its land claims and holdings, and inter-governmental relations.
  • Represented an individual accused of capital murder in pre-trial motions challenging the constitutionality of the Virginia death penalty statutes, which contributed to the resolution of his case on terms that may in time afford him parole.
  • Sought intervention on behalf of New York voters in litigation brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to force the New York State Board of Elections to replace its existing lever voting machines with electronic voting machines on the eve of the 2006 election. The DOJ withdrew its request for this relief and instead the state was able to continue to use lever voting machines in the 2006 election and was free thereafter to implement a regulatory regime for the selection and use of alternate voting machines.
  • Secured an emergency court order on behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which required the DOJ to publicly produce the secret “ballot security” procedures issued to U.S. Attorneys before the 2004 presidential election. Further disclosures required by the court revealed that the DOJ had revised the manual on the prosecution of federal election crimes to permit the investigation and bringing of election crime prosecutions around election time, a reversal of long-standing practice to prevent the misuse of prosecutorial power to influence an election.
  • Obtained U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs records on behalf of a major newspaper company. The records revealed the extent to which veterans were being denied benefits due to delays and other problems in the way that the agency handles benefit claims.

Publications

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

Professional Affiliations

  • Secretary and Member, Board of Directors, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Trustee, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
  • Member, Board of Directors, DC Appleseed
  • Member, District of Columbia Bar Pro Bono Partnership Advisory Committee
  • Past Co-Chair, District of Columbia Bar, Administrative Law Section
  • Former Director, Freedom of Information Clearinghouse
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Speaker, Harvard Law School Program on the Legal Profession, 2011

Community Involvement

  • Volunteer, Orr Elementary School
  • Volunteer, St. Philip’s Child Development Center

Offices