Director of the Trial Advocacy Program
B.A., Florida A & M University
H.T. SMITH is the founding Director of the Trial Advocacy Program at Florida International University College of Law. He is a nationally-renown trial lawyer and a highly sought after trial advocacy lecturer – with a reputation for demanding a” full cup of justice” for the least, the last, the lost, the looked over and the left out. He was voted the Top Trial Lawyer for 2017 by the 4,500 members of the Dade County Bar Association, listed in The Best Lawyers in America for over 20 years, listed in Florida Super Lawyers, selected as one of the Top 10 Trial lawyers of the Year by the National Law Journal, and is rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell.
He blazed pioneering trails as Miami’s first African-American assistant public defender and first African-American assistant county attorney. His entry into private practice was Miami’s first Black-owned law firm practicing in downtown Miami.
His leadership includes serving as President of the National Bar Association, President of the Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association, founding President of the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association, and Chairman of the Declaration of Rights Committee of the 1997-98 Florida Constitution Revision Commission, which voted him Best Advocate. He is founder and Chairman of the Board of the Gwen Cherry Park Foundation in Liberty City, and founder of the NFL Youth Education Town (YET) at Gwen Cherry Park. He was a founding Board member of OUR KIDS of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, Chairman of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, member of the Florida Sentencing Guidelines Commission, member of the Board of Directors of Legal Services of Greater Miami, member of the Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission, and he currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Miami.
The Eleventh Judicial Circuit Historical Society named him a Legal Legend, the Dade County Bar Association awarded him its prestigious David W. Dyer Professionalism Award and its Icon Award, and the National Bar Association inducted him into the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame and awarded him the Gertrude Rush Award.
The BLSA Chapter at FIU College of Law named its chapter in his honor. Legal Services of Greater Miami named an advocacy fellowship in his honor, and the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce named its highest award in his honor. From FIU he has received the Top Scholar Award and the FIU Medallion, and the Pioneer Award from the College of Law.
H.T. led the hugely successful BOYCOTT MIAMI Campaign — the Quiet Riot – for 1,000 days in response to local politicians snubbing the iconic Nelson Mandela when he visited Miami in 1990. This effort led to the development of the first African American owned convention quality hotel in America – built on the ocean on Miami Beach; 25 full-tuition hospitality management scholarships at FIU in perpetuity; and many other economic and political benefits for people of color. President Nelson Mandela wrote that “H.T. Smith became well-known for his consistent and courageous contribution and support for the struggle against apartheid. We are confident that wherever injustice and racism raises their ugly heads, H. T. will be there to raise his powerful voice of protest and resistance.”
Professor H. T. Smith teaches Advanced Trial Advocacy and Trial Advocacy.