Jonathan M. Smith is the Senior Special Counsel. Before, he was executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Immediately prior to joining the Committee, Mr. Smith was the Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.

Mr. Smith was the Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice from 2010 to 2015. The Section was responsible for pattern or practice investigations of civil rights violations by law enforcement, correctional, juvenile justice, and mental health and developmental disability agencies. Under his leadership, the Section conducted the civil investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department following the death of Michael Brown.

Prior to his government services, Mr. Smith was the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project. In each of these positions, in addition to providing program leadership, he has handled individual, class action and impact litigation, engaged in legislative advocacy and in institutional reform efforts. He started his career as an associate to Virginia civil rights lawyer Victor Glasberg.

Recent Publications


  • JD, Antioch School of Law
  • BA, University of Maine at Orono

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia

Honors and Awards

  • John Marshall Award – United States Attorney General, 2014 (for work to protect the Sixth Amendment right to counsel)
  • Director’s Award – Executive Office of the United States Attorneys, 2014 (for work on the Seattle Police
  • Department Litigation)
  • Exponent Award — Agnes & Eugene Meyer Foundation, 2010
  • Justice Potter Stewart Award — Council for Court Excellence, 2006
  • President’s Award — Washington Council of Lawyers, 2006
  • Excellence in Chief Executive Leadership Award — Center for Non-Profit Advancement, 2006
  • Advocate for Justice — University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, 2005

Professional/Community Activities

  • Reporter, Community Engagement in the State Court’s Initiative, National Center for State Courts (2015 to present)
  • Member, District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission (2005-2010; 2015 to present)
  • Member, DC Bar Committee on Judicial Evaluations, (2010 to present)
  • Member, American Law Institute (2010 to present)
  • Member and Treasurer, Board of Directors of Our Place D.C. (2003-2009)
  • Leadership Greater Washington, Class of 2008
  • Chair, Consortium of District of Columbia Legal Services Providers (2003-2006)

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