Scott D. Smith - Partner

Scott D. Smith is a seasoned trial lawyer who has obtained favorable verdicts for clients on both sides of the docket. Mr. Smith has experience in all phases of litigation in both state and federal courts throughout the United States, including resolving a broad array of business and commercial disputes, as well as having extensive experience representing financial advisers and financial institutions in financial services litigation in FINRA and AAA arbitration proceedings. He frequently represents financial advisers and financial institutions in employment disputes, securities enforcement actions, as well as regulatory and compliance matters, and assists his clients in obtaining, or defending against, injunctive relief at TRO proceedings and temporary injunction hearings.

Since 2003, Mr. Smith has represented both large and small, public and private companies, their directors, officers, partners, members, employees, and affiliates in a broad spectrum of business disputes and litigation involving breach of contract, fraud, tortious interference with contract, negligence, theft of trade secrets, business disparagement, breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition, employment agreements, including enforcement of non-competition and non-solicitation covenants, as well as disputes and litigation in real estate and probate matters. He has also successfully argued appeals before the New York State Appellate Division and the Texas Fourteenth District Court of Appeals. In addition to complex commercial and business litigation, Mr. Smith’s practice is also concentrated on matters related to legal ethics and professional responsibility.

Notably, Mr. Smith has achieved the distinction of being rated as AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell, which is highest possible rating given to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers. Mr. Smith has also been awarded the Platinum Client Champion by Martindale-Hubbell. This prestigious award, based on the quantity and quality of an attorney’s Martindale-Hubbell client reviews, recognizes those attorneys who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to delivering the highest level of client service as affirmed by their clients. This award is a testament to Mr. Smith’s dedication to his clients and his commitment to providing exceptional legal representation. The award is also a recognition of Mr. Smith’s ability to navigate the often complex legal landscape and obtain positive outcomes for his clients.

Mr. Smith joined Henneman Rau Kirklin & Smith LLP in January 2017. Previously, Mr. Smith served as Of Counsel for the Law Office of Larry P. Smith in Houston, Texas and was the Head of Litigation for D. Miller & Associates, PLLC. Prior to his return to Houston, Mr. Smith was a Partner with McCormick & O’Brien, LLP, a boutique commercial and securities litigation firm in New York City. Mr. Smith also served as a Principal Attorney with the Attorney Grievance Committee for the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department as well as a Senior Court Attorney with the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department in Manhattan. Prior to his government service, Mr. Smith was associated with the law firms of Robinson Brog Leinwand Greene Genovese & Gluck P.C. and Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, and was an Associate with Bernstein Liebhard LLP, where he represented aggrieved investors in class action lawsuits.

  • Texas
  • New York
  • District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

  • Boston University School of Law, LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law, 2002
  • South Texas College of Law, J.D., 2001
    • Member, South Texas Law Review
  • University of Texas at Austin, B.A. in English Literature, 1997

Trial/Arbitration Highlights

  • First chair in AAA arbitration defending client, an investment management firm, against investor’s claims of breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, suitability, securities fraud, and violations of both California and federal securities laws. The investor sought more than $1.5 million in damages.
    • Result: The Arbitrator entered a total defense verdict in favor of client, denying all relief sought by the investor (San Francisco, CA).
  • First chair in AAA arbitration defending client, a registered investment adviser, against former employer who sought to enforce a “buy-out” provision in the employment agreement. The employer sought more than $4.8 million in damages under the “buy-out” provision of the employment agreement.
    • Result: The Panel found the “buy-out” provision in the employment agreement to be an unenforceable liquidated damages clause, thereby rendering it a penalty and void as a matter of law in favor of client (Dallas, TX).
  • First chair in bench trial representing client, the Independent Executrix of an Estate, in an action for breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of property belonging to Estate, and theft of property under the Texas Theft Liability Act against multiple defendants.
    • Result: The trial judge found in favor of client and awarded over $765,000 in damages against defendants (Houston, TX).
  • First chair in AAA arbitration defending client, an automobile dealership, against allegations of breach of the Texas DTPA, fraud, breach of contract, and breach of express and implied warranties regarding the sale of a vehicle.
    • Result: The Arbitrator entered a total defense verdict in favor of client, denying all relief sought by consumer (Houston, TX).
  • Second chair in jury trial representing client, an oil & gas company, in action for breach of contract regarding unpaid joint-interest billings under an asset-purchase agreement involving mineral interests against defendant, another oil & gas company.
    • Result: Jury verdict in favor of client for over $1.5 million in damages against defendant (Houston, TX).

Financial Services Industry

  • Representation of national financial services firm in complex commercial litigation in federal court regarding the breach of an asset purchase agreement, unfair competition, civil conspiracy, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of common law duties, conversion, and tortious interference against multiple individuals and a competing national financial services firm.
  • Representation of financial services firms in investigating departing employee conduct and seeking and obtaining temporary and preliminary injunctive relief in hundreds of matters nationwide.
  • Representation of FINRA-registered brokers and SEC-registered investment advisers in post-employment disputes, including defending against attempts by opposing parties to obtain temporary and preliminary injunctive relief nationwide.
  • Representation of financial advisers and financial services firms in litigation of post-employment restrictive covenants, including non-competition and non-solicitation clauses, as well as breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, defamation, tortious interference, and other claims on behalf of both employers and employees.
  • Representation of financial services firms and their advisers in defense of customer complaints regarding issues of investment suitability, fraud, negligence, and alleged violations of state and federal securities laws.
  • Representation of individuals, financial advisers, and financial institutions in FINRA and AAA arbitrations nationwide.
  • Representation of individuals, financial advisers, and financial services firms regarding transition of financial advisers to new firm.
  • Representation of financial advisers and financial services firms in U-5 and expungement related disputes.
  • Representation of financial advisers and financial services firms in promissory note disputes.
  • Representation of individuals, financial advisers, and financial services firms in hundreds of industry disputes in FINRA and AAA arbitrations nationwide.
  • Representation of CEO of brokerage services provider specializing in energy derivatives in SEC Enforcement Action.
  • Representation of Investment Holding Company and its CEO in securities litigation matter with a major financial institution.

Business/Employment Disputes

  • Representation of physicians in partnership dispute regarding multiple urgent care facilities.
  • Representation of individual members of LLC and multiple companies in a business divorce matter.
  • Representation of international manufacturer of off-highway power and propulsion systems, diesel engines, and distributed energy systems in property damage and products liability lawsuit.
  • Representation of individual regarding the post-acquisition of beekeeping business involving restrictive covenants contained in contract.
  • Representation of commercial property owner in lawsuit against former partner regarding claims of conversion, money had and received, tortious interference with contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Representation of energy services company in copyright infringement lawsuit.
  • Representation of individual against multiple companies for breaches of loan and investment agreements and suit on sworn account.
  • Representation of an oil & gas company in breach of contract action regarding finance and accounting software for the upstream oil & gas industry.
  • Representation of employee of an oil & gas company regarding claims of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract.
  • Representation of dental practice against former employee regarding breach of non-competition and non-solicitation provisions in employment agreement.

Real Estate

  • Representation of Homeowner’s Association in dispute with Community Association regarding violations of the Texas Property Code and Texas Business Organizations Code, including breaches of fiduciary duty.
  • Representation of tenant regarding asset purchase agreement of restaurant and promissory note executed between tenant and landlord, including the negotiation of lease cancellation and termination agreement with landlord due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey.
  • Representation of motel in premises liability action brought by guest of motel.
  • Representation of individual in lawsuit to partition for sale real property and appointment of receiver.
  • Representation of homeowners in action for adverse possession for certain real property and to correct an erroneous warranty deed.
  • Representation of homeowners in lawsuit against home builder under the Residential Construction Liability Act (“RCLA”) for construction defects, including negligence and breach of warranty.

Probate

  • Representation of Independent Executrix of Estate in action for breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of property belonging to Estate, and theft of property under the Texas Theft Liability Act against Defendant.
  • Representation of heirs at law of Estate in multi-jurisdictional litigation involving fraudulent transfer of property belonging to Estate.
  • Representation of daughter of Decedent involving appointment of Administrator of Decedent’s Estate and issuance of Letters of Administration.
  • AV Preeminent® rating awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, which is highest possible rating given to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers.
  • Platinum Client Champion awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, which recognizes those attorneys who excel at service as affirmed by their clients. This prestigious award, based on the quantity and quality of an attorney’s Martindale-Hubbell client reviews, is a testament to Mr. Smith’s dedication to his clients and his commitment to providing exceptional legal representation. The award is also a recognition of Mr. Smith’s ability to navigate the often complex legal landscape and obtain positive outcomes for his clients.
  • Matter of Kobra, 46 Misc.3d 54, 2 N.Y.S.3d 313 (N.Y. App. Term 2014)
  • In re MTU Detroit Diesel, Inc., No. 10-17-00323-CV, 2017 WL 6614662 (Tex. App.—Waco December 27, 2017)
  • In re Rhame & Gorrell Wealth Mgmt., LLC, No. 09-18-00431-CV, 2018 WL 6068451 (Tex. App.—Beaumont Nov. 20, 2018)
  • MTNV, Inc. v. ALST Realty, LLC, No. 14-18-00170-CV, 2019 WL 6317370 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 26, 2019)
  • Kissinger Fin. Servs., LLC v. Kissinger, No. GJH-18-3978, 2021 WL 1017400 (D. Md. Mar. 17, 2021)
  • American Bar Association
  • Houston Bar Association (Sections: Chair, Securities Litigation and Arbitration Law; Commercial and Consumer Law; Litigation)
  • Texas Trial Lawyers Association
  • Houston Trial Lawyers Association
  • Business Law
  • Business Litigation
  • Business Formation
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Trade Secrets
  • Financial Services Litigation
  • General Civil Litigation
  • Arbitration
  • Corporate Law
  • Corporate Litigation
  • Corporate Governance
  • Real Estate Litigation
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Real Estate
  • Employment
  • Employment Contracts
  • Contracts
  • Breach of Contract
  • Probate Litigation
  • Corporate and Securities Law
  • Securities Litigation
  • Appellate Law
  • Ethics and Professional Responsibility