Joel A. Smith

Joel Smith has served as legal counsel and advisor to elected officers and representatives of labor and civic organizations on the local, national and state levels. He has represented workers in occupations as diverse as national professional sports, television, movies, theater arts, building trades, fire and emergency medical services, public schools, community college and undergraduate instruction, retail sales, manufacturing, public transit and heavy industry. Mr. Smith helped organize the World Umpires Association, the collective bargaining agent for Major League Baseball’s umpires, for which he served as labor counsel for seven years.

Mr. Smith represents a variety of public employee unions in Maryland. He has played a significant role in defining public employee collective bargaining rights in the State both through legislative action and through litigation. Mr. Smith argued on behalf of a coalition of Anne Arundel County unions in Atkinson, et al. v. Anne Arundel County, 428 Md. 723, 53 A.3d 1184 (2012), a decision that settled thirty-five years of uncertainty regarding binding interest arbitration in Maryland counties. He has previously appeared in Maryland’s appellate courts on behalf of the Baltimore Teachers Union, local unions of the International Association of Firefighters, and divisions of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Mr. Smith is a graduate of Colgate University and the University of Maryland School of Law. He received the Joseph Bernstein Prize for legal writing from the University of Maryland in 1976. He was admitted to practice in the State of Maryland in 1976, and also has been admitted to practice before the United States Courts of Appeal for the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Tenth and District of Columbia Circuits. He has appeared in numerous appellate arguments before those and other courts.

In 2007, Mr. Smith was elected a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, which recognizes an attorney’s sustained contribution, high integrity and professionalism. Mr. Smith also has been recognized as having particular expertise in the public education laws of Maryland, and public sector labor law. He has appeared as a guest speaker before the National Academy of Arbitrators, Maryland’s Education Law Institute, George Meany Center for Labor Studies, and before the hearing examiners of the Maryland Department of Employment and Economic Development. Mr. Smith has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America since 1990, in Baltimore Magazine in his area of specialization, and, repeatedly, in Super Lawyers-Maryland. He is currently a member of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Administrative Law Section Council.

Bar Admissions

  • Maryland Court of Appeals
  • Third Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • United States District Court for the District of Maryland
  • Supreme Court of the United States


  • Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Elected June 1, 2007
  • Selected for inclusion Super Lawyers – Maryland 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007
  • The Best Lawyers in America since 1990 in the areas of Labor & Employment Law, Sports Law, and Entertainment Law
  • Joseph Bernstein Prize for legal writing from the University of Maryland


  • Colgate University
  • University of Maryland School of Law


  • Former Member, Governing Boards of the Creative Alliance at the Patterson
  • Maryland Lawyer’s for the Arts, Former Member and Past President