Robert Smith

Biography

Inducted (2013) into the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals

recognized as a mediator internationally

Mr. Smith has served as Director of Mediation at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) in London. He was also an Academic Visitor to the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford, where he taught a seminar on mediation theory and practice.
Mr. Smith was also a Visiting Scholar in Decision Sciences at INSEAD in France. He also presented lectures at the UN’s International Labor Organization in Turin. In 2011 he was invited by the European Union to address academics on training mediators.
Mr. Smith was elected President of The Mediation Society. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and is a member of arbitration panels around the world.

summary

Robert M. Smith
Mr. Smith has been selected several times as a Northern California Super Lawyer.
This honor is accorded to fewer than 5% of American mediators and arbitrators.

Robert M. Smith brings to mediation more than 20 years of experience as a mediator, as well as many years of commercial trial and litigation experience; an understanding of what a judge, jury or arbitrator may do; journalistic experience in careful listening; a bottom-line, realistic focus from business and corporate involvement, and many years of negotiating experience.

He specializes in the prompt resolution of  complex commercial disputes that sometimes require imagination.

He brings to mediation courtroom experience, federal and state; litigation experience, domestic and international; recognition as a barrister, Chartered Arbitrator and Registered Mediator in England; and the research and academic experience of teaching law.

Mr. Smith has taught mediation at the Law Faculty of Oxford University, as well as international arbitration and the arbitration of intellectual property disputes; and experience with diverse commercial litigation matters in many overseas jurisdictions. He has been, for example, a member of the mediation panel of the Centre de Médiation et d’Arbitrage de Paris (CMAP).

He has had many years of commercial litigation and trial experience consisting of practice at: Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe in San Francisco; Senior Litigation Counsel, Bank of America, responsible for overseas litigation worldwide; principal of his own commercial litigation firm, which included as its clients 36 banks and other financial institutions; Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States during the Carter administration; and Assistant US Attorney.

He is the author of ADR for Financial Institutions (West, 2nd ed. 1998, 1200 pp.), and is a full-time neutral.

Mr. Smith has mediated in French , German, and Spanish. Mr. Smith’s French is fluent, his German acceptable, his Spanish is more limited.  He studied Russian at university.


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adr experience


President, The Mediation Society.
Center for Public Resources, Panel of Distinguished Neutrals.
American Arbitration Association’s Northern California Advisory Council.
American Arbitration Association’s Commercial Arbitration Panel.
American Arbitration Association’s Center for Mediation.
Professional Attorney Mediators.
Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution.
Former Vice-President of the Association of Attorney-Mediators.

Mr. Smith’s mediation experience has included hundreds of commercial disputes of various kinds–including sexual harassment, financial, real estate, wrongful termination, attorneys fees, high technology, personal injury, insurance and insurance coverage, equal employment, financial and financial institutions, class action, construction and construction defect, product liability, community disputes, inverse condemnation, trade finance, compensation and commissions, casualty, franchise, hospitals, malpractice, environmental, import-export, computer codes, breach of contract, trade secrets, and discrimination.


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background

Mr. Smith was a pioneer in bringing arbitration, mediation and other alternative dispute resolution techniques to the field of commercial litigation. He was on both the AAA arbitration and mediation panels for many years. He was also a member of the Northern California Advisory Council to the AAA. He is the author of an 1200-page treatise entitled ADR for Financial Institutions (West 2nd ed. 1998, 1200 pp.). He has run his own enterprise, managed a Government office, and worked closely with the CEO’s and board members of banks and other financial institutions, including foreign entities. He has also been on the boards of many not-for-profit organizations, including the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation.

Mr. Smith supervised litigation overseas worldwide for the Bank of America, where he was Senior Litigation Counsel. He has considerable courtroom experience as an Assistant United States Attorney and as the principal of his own commercial litigation firm.

Mr. Smith’s commercial law experience has ranged from high-tech lending through sexual harassment and discrimination matters, from lender liability to computer lease disputes, from international letters of credit to construction disputes, from insurance coverage issues to personal injury matters, from inter-bank disputes to the defense of attorney malpractice.

Diploma, National Institute for Trial Advocacy

Mr. Smith has experience in government as Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States (Carter Administration); public affairs, as chief spokesperson for the Department of Justice; journalism, as a Washington correspondent for The New York Times; white-collar crime, as a federal prosecutor; as a senior in-house attorney, with the Bank of America; and as a writer about law, trials, and ADR in journals as diverse as The International Financial Law Review (London), The Washington Post, The San Francisco Examiner, The California Banker, American Jurisprudence, Lender Liability News, and Legal Times.

He has been listed in Who’s Who in American Law and the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, as well as the Chambers Directory in the United Kingdom.  He has been selected several times as a Northern California Super Lawyer (in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution) through a selection process that involved attorney peer nominations. This honor is accorded to no more than 5% of American mediators and arbitrators.

Mr. Smith is a full-time mediator.


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education

YALE LAW SCHOOL, JD. Board of Editors, Yale Law Journal.

COLUMBIA GRADUATE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM, MS with High Honors.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, MA, International Affairs.

CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS DE ESPAÑOL, Barcelona, Diploma.

UNIVERSITY OF TÜBINGEN, Germany, Fulbright Scholar.

HARVARD COLLEGE, AB with Honors.


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professional history

Mediator
with his own practice for 20 years.

Director of Mediation
At CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) in London.

Academic Visitor to the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford
Taught seminar on the Theory and Practice of Mediation to graduate law students.

Visiting Scholar in Decision Sciences Department at INSEAD and international business school, Fontainebleau, France.

Lecturer at the United Nations Training Facility in Turin, Italy
Lectured to government executives from around the world at the graduate program of the United Nations’ INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION.

Principal
LAW OFFICES OF ROBERT M. SMITH, San Francisco.
The firm specialized in the representation of financial institutions. It came to represent 36 banks and other financial institutions, as well as other clients, in a wide range of commercial matters.

Senior Litigation Counsel
BANK OF AMERICA.  Mr. Smith reorganized the litigation function of the Bank in Northern and Southern California and supervised the Bank’s international litigation, with worldwide responsibilities. He was an Assistant United States Attorney in San Francisco and conducted federal criminal trials.

Special Assistant
to the ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES and Director of the OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (in the ADMINISTRATION OF PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER).

Chief Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Member
U.S. DELEGATION TO THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE IN U.S. v. Iran.

Associate attorney
Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe in San Francisco.  Commercial litigation.

Intern in Economic Development
UNITED NATIONS, Geneva.

Correspondent
TIME MAGAZINE.

Correspondent
THE NEW YORK TIMES.  Covered many institutions in Washington, including the White House.


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experience


Adjunct Law Professor teaching international arbitration and mediation and the mediation of intellectual property disputes; Lecturer on many topics to various bar and business groups, including the International Bankers of California and annual conferences of the International Bar Association in Amsterdam (mediation ethics) and the California State Bar in San Diego (advocacy in mediation). Law school lecturer on the design of a corporate dispute resolution system; lectured on journalism;  Judge pro tempore, San Francisco; listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in American Law, the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and the Chambers Directory (UK).

The Chambers Directory listed Mr. Smith as one of the top mediators in the United kingdom.

Mr. Smith has also been a member of a number of professional, civic, charitable and social organizations. These posts include, or have included:  President of the Harvard Club of San Francisco;  Vice-President of the Association of Attorney-Mediators;  Board member of the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation;  Board member of the Yale Club;  Director of the Nob Hill Association;  Board member, St. Francis Hospital Foundation; First Lieutenant USAR — infantry platoon leader.


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publications


Author of Alternative Dispute Resolution for Financial Institutions
(West 2nd ed. 1998, 1200 pages).

Co-author of  ADR Law Insights: Top ADR Lawyers Share What They Know Best (Execsense, Amazon Digital Services, 2013, 105 pages).

Also author of numerous articles including many on arbitration, mediation and litigation management.  Please see Recent Publications and Publications under the heading About R.M. Smith on this website.

For example:

“Mediation in Bank-Related Disputes” Lender Liability News

“Aristotle and Arbitration” San Francisco Examiner

“A Meditation on Mediation” California Lawyer

“ADR: Unlimited Possibilities” Dispute Resolution

“Ten Suggestions about How to Be More Effective in Mediation” Asian Dispute Review

“The Minitrial: An Alternative to a Lengthy Lawsuit” Dispute Resolution

“Mediation Musings” California Lawyer

“Two Harassment Cases” California Banker

“Transnational Mediation” Northern California Mediation Association

“Symmetry Alchemy” Cyber Esquire

“Tower of Babble” House Counsel

“Making Mediation Work” Northern California Mediation Association

“Advocacy in Mediation” The Daily Journal

Some of these articles are available in the Publications section of this website.


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licenses

Mr. Smith has active status in the California Bar. He has inactive status in the New York and District of Columbia Bars. He is also a barrister of Inner Temple and a barrister of Lincoln’s Inn (ad eundem).

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