Daniel Smith, Brooks Pierce Photo

Daniel F.E. Smith



Dan Smith focuses his law practice on matters involving environmental, commercial, education, and state constitutional law. A former educator and environmental scientist, Dan represents businesses, boards of education, and individuals in state, federal, administrative, and appellate courts.

My Practices

  • Dan uses his scientific training and background to help clients solve complex problems related to environmental laws, frequently working as part of a larger Brooks Pierce team. Dan has represented and advised a variety of industries to help them obtain necessary permits and comply with environmental regulations. He has advised clients on matters involving CERCLA, RCRA, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, asbestos, combustible dust, underground and aboveground storage tanks, private nuisance claims, and groundwater and soil contamination.

  • Dan is a frequent member of teams that handle large, complex business litigation. Dan also represents small companies and startups and helps them navigate the issues and challenges that can arise in the normal course of doing business.

  • A former science teacher, Dan represents boards of education, administrators, and teachers in a wide variety of litigation in state and federal courts and before administrative tribunals. He has advised and represented clients on a broad range of issues including special needs education and disabilities, bullying, personal injuries on school property, disputes with former employees, environmental health, and education-related provisions of the North Carolina Constitution and United States Constitution. 

  • A former North Carolina Supreme Court law clerk, Dan brings a unique insight to the Firm's clients. He advises within the firm on the handling of appeals and petitions and is often consulted on the finer points of appellate procedure. Dan has represented clients in the Supreme Court of North Carolina and the North Carolina Court of Appeals in matters arising from business disputes, school employment, and state and federal constitutional questions.


School Litigation

Representative matters include:

  • Obtaining summary judgment in favor of a board of education for a retaliation claim brought by a former teacher and successfully defending the judgment on appeal to the Fourth Circuit.
  • Obtaining trial court dismissal of employment-related claims brought by a former teacher against a board of education and its superintendent and persuading the North Carolina Court of Appeals to dismiss an attempted appeal from the trial court’s judgment.
  • Persuading a federal district court to dismiss IDEA and attempted tort claims asserted by a student and his parents against a board of education and special education teacher.



Law Clerk to the Honorable Mark D. Martin, Supreme Court of North Carolina, 2010-2011

Honors & Recognitions

Greensboro Beautiful Award of Distinction (2020)

Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in Commercial Litigation (2021-2024) and Litigation - Environmental (2024)

Recognized in North Carolina Super Lawyers as a "Rising Star" in Environmental Law (2016-2018); Civil Litigation: Defense (2019-2020)


University of North Carolina School of Law, J.D., 2010, with highest honors; Order of the Coif; Editor in Chief, North Carolina Law Review, 2009-2010

Duke University, M.A., 2003

Duke University, B.S., 2002, summa cum laude


North Carolina

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Western, Middle, and Eastern Districts of North Carolina



Professional & Civic

Professional & Civic Activities

Adjunct Law Professor, Environmental Law, Administrative Law, Elon University School of Law (Fall 2017-present)

Chair, Financial Asset Development Committee (January 2020-December 2021), Member (2017-2021), North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities

Sustainability Committee Co-chair, Environment, Energy, & Natural Resources Section, North Carolina Bar Association (2014-2017)

Chair (August 2018-July 2020), Vice-Chair (September 2017-July 2018), Member (2014-2020), Board of Directors, Greensboro Beautiful

Member, Appellate Practice Section Council, North Carolina Bar Association (term beginning July 1, 2016 and ending June 30, 2019)

About Me

One surprising thing people don’t know about me is I was a collegiate fencer. My idea of happiness is spending time with family, enjoying good food and the time we have together.

  • 10
    10 years litigating with Brooks Pierce
  • 8
    8 chickens happily lay eggs in Dan's backyard thanks to a highly persuasive twelve-year-old
  • 1
    1 iron distance triathlon completed (before Dan and his wife started their family)
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