D. Todd Smith

D. Todd Smith

D. Todd Smith has devoted his two-decade legal career to civil appellate practice. Serving as an intern to a federal circuit judge and as law review editor-in-chief sparked his interest in appellate work, and two years as a Texas Supreme Court briefing attorney solidified it. From there, Todd moved on to Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., where he learned from some of the finest appellate lawyers in Texas. In 2006, he started a boutique firm—now known as Smith Nobles—focusing on handling appeals and providing litigation support to trial lawyers and their clients statewide.

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Toth Appointed to Third Court of Appeals

Justice Bob Pemberton has departed the Third Court of Appeals before his term was set to expire on December 31, 2018. Governor Abbott wasted no time appointing Mike Toth, the Republican candidate for Justice Pemberton’s open seat, to fill the vacancy. Justice Toth must defeat the Democratic candidate, Travis County District Judge Gisela Triana, to keep … Continue Reading

The Appellate Road Warrior: Essential Skills and Best Practices

This is the fifth and final installment of my series on mobile lawyering for appellate practitioners. To easily access the entire series, click here. By this point, you should have the equipment and the software to get your work done from the road. This post discusses some special considerations for working efficiently and securely. Troubleshooting Tech … Continue Reading

The Appellate Road Warrior: Apps for Practicing From the Road

This is the fourth installment in my series on practicing appellate law from the road. The others are available here. This post addresses methods for continuing your daily work without access to your office or laptop computer. Highlighted below are various apps that will help keep things moving. Microsoft Office As mentioned earlier in the series, … Continue Reading

The Appellate Road Warrior: Preparing for Mobile Lawyering (Continued)

This is the third installment in my series on practicing appellate law from the road. To see the others, click here. You’ve chosen your hardware (laptop, tablet, or smartphone) and the basic software you’ll need to be productive. Before going on the road, you must also consider how your information will be organized and accessed … Continue Reading

The Appellate Road Warrior: Preparing for Mobile Lawyering

This is the second post in my series on practicing appellate law from the road. The introductory post is available here. Effective mobile lawyering requires some up-front preparation. The hardware you’ll take with you is a threshold consideration. Basic Hardware A laptop, tablet, and smartphone are the key tools for practicing remotely. The hardware needed … Continue Reading

An Evening with the Supreme Court of Texas

The Appellate Sections of the Austin Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas are once again co-sponsoring “An Evening with the Supreme Court of Texas.” This event—which has been held biennially since 2008—will take place on Thursday, March 1, 2018, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel here in … Continue Reading

New Year, New Name

In this inaugural post for 2018, I’d like to announce a significant change in my firm. As of January 1, 2018, Smith Law Group has become Smith Haley Nobles. I started this firm in 2006 as a sole proprietorship. Solo life was great, if somewhat solitary. I enjoyed enough success the first couple of years that … Continue Reading

Talking Legal Tech on New Solo

Anyone familiar with me as a lawyer knows I have a penchant for legal technology. It’s a regular topic of discussion around here, particularly as it relates to modern-day appellate practice. I’m always looking for ways to implement legal tech and related tools to make things run more smoothly and efficiently in my firm and … Continue Reading

Marking Milestones

Eleven years ago today, I started the practice that became Smith Law Group LLLP. One year later, on the first anniversary of what was then a solo shop, I posted these words: One year ago today, I departed big firm life to start my own appellate boutique—if you can call one lawyer a boutique! The … Continue Reading

How Dependent on Instant Online Data Access Are We?

Try accessing any number of court-related websites right now, and you may be diverted to the following landing page: A Tuesday evening power outage took down Office of Court Administration servers, and OCA has had difficulty bringing them back up. Meanwhile, scores of lawyers across the state went into panic as they were unable to instantly … Continue Reading

Demystifying Appellate Law on The Law Entrepreneur

Solo and small firm lawyers, if you’re into podcasts and haven’t checked out The Law Entrepreneur, you should. Maryland lawyer Neil Tyra has put together 69 episodes (so far) of great conversation with lawyers, tech consultants, and other professionals offering insight into the entrepreneurial side of modern-day law practice. The main reason I know exactly how … Continue Reading

Bench Bar Beyond: The Future is Now

The Austin Bar Association is accepting registrations for Bench Bar Beyond, its annual conference with the local judiciary. As the name and artwork suggest, the theme this year is futuristic; attendees are invited to explore topics and current trends in the legal profession that will impact our future as lawyers. I’m slated to moderate two … Continue Reading

Election 2016: Some New Faces on Texas Appellate Courts

As in recent cycles, Republican incumbents and open-seat candidates for Texas appellate benches generally fared well in the 2016 general election. South Texas was the notable exception. The election will not change the Texas Supreme Court’s composition—at least not directly—as incumbent Justices Paul Green, Eva Guzman, and Debra Lehrmann all retained their seats. Donald Trump’s … Continue Reading

How I’m Using My iPad Pro for Appellate Arguments

I just completed my second Fifth Circuit argument using my big iPad Pro in a more prominent role than ever before. Inspired by Jeff Richardson’s post about how he used an iPad to prepare for and present an appellate argument, I thought I’d share how I’ve integrated the device into my preparation and presentation strategy. Documents … Continue Reading

Confessions of a Litigation-Support Lawyer

I have a confession to make: I’m doing a lot of litigation-support work these days. And I like it. In one context, the phrase “litigation support”—like “contract lawyer“—can have an almost-negative connotation. It might imply document review, presentation assistance, or other services that are not high revenue generators or don’t require a law license at all. The phrase has … Continue Reading

Using the Evaluative Approach in Appellate Mediation

Last week, I spoke to the Austin Bar Association ADR Section about mediating cases on appeal. In my talk, I explored the differences in perspective between pre-trial mediation, in which most everything is in flux, and post-trial or appellate mediation, where a party has usually won or lost and the variables have shifted toward certainty. … Continue Reading

Soaking Up Some CLE

I spoke today at TexasBarCLE’s Soaking Up Some CLE Program on South Padre Island—one of my favorite places to visit. My topic was “Jury Charges in Commercial Cases.” For anyone interested, my slidedeck appears here. Today was the first time I’ve presented on this particular topic. As always, I learned a lot getting ready for … Continue Reading