Judge Smith retired from the Orange County Superior Court after twenty years of distinguished service. He presided over a broad range of civil cases including family law where he served for the last 9 years and spent 3 years as a Supervising Judge of the department, Presiding Judge of the court's appellate division, and a special master for the Commission on Judicial Performance. Judge Smith, known for his scholarly approach to judicial decision-making, is the author of more than a dozen published legal articles and has been honored by several bar associations. Judge Smith has presided over a broad range of civil cases, including personal injury, professional negligence, employment discrimination, real property, and business disputes.
Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Smith was successful in the practice of real estate, environmental, and business transactional law. He is a frequent lecturer and panelist in the areas of family law, civil procedure, and legal ethics. He brings his commitment to excellence and service to his role as a mediator, arbitrator, and private judge. He commented, "I am painfully aware of the high cost, both financial and emotional, of protracted litigation. I am energized by the opportunity to help litigants reach an earlier and less costly resolution."
Hobbies & Interests
In his spare time, Judge Smith is a baseball fan, Harley-Davidson enthusiast, and a traveler.
"[He was] able to get another very difficult case settled. We remain extremely satisfied and impressed by [his] skills as a mediator. [He has] a true gift! "
- Attorney on a business/contractual dispute
"I cannot say enough good things about Judge Clay Smith. Judicate West is truly lucky to have him as part of the team. "
- Attorney on a Business/Contractual case
"The mediator was great. Will definitely schedule with Judge Smith again.
- Attorney on a Real Property Transaction case
"Judge Smith was cordial and very effective; a pleasure to work with."
- San Diego Civil Litigation Attorney on a Family Law Case
"It is my pleasure to recommend Honorable Judge Clay Smith. I just finished a successful mediation with Judge Smith in which he was instrumental in reaching a global settlement of a dissolution case involving challenging custody and financial issues. After having appeared in front of Judge Smith for years in family court I have developed the utmost respect for his wisdom, calm presence and compassion. He truly cares. We are fortunate to have him more readily available now to resolve our cases in private mediation as opposed to through often times toxic litigation in court."
- Attorney on a Family Law Matter
"Our mediation with Judge Smith was great. He was able to help us get the case resolved and it was a positive experience for both sides."
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Auto case
"Judge Smith is a very welcome addition to the available neutrals to preside over family law matters. Your staff was very accommodating, and your facility is very conducive to achieving a settlement. I look forward to future engagements of Judge Smith."
- Attorney on a Family Law Matter
"Judge Smith is an excellent mediator. He has a wonderful demeanor and is very fair-minded. His years of experience are evident in his approach and were absolutely key to resolving a difficult matter. I look forward to working with him again, and will wholeheartedly recommend him to other attorneys."
- Attorney on a Real Property Breach of Contract Case
Judge Smith has years of experience in the area of environmental law. This includes overseeing environmental assessments prior to the sale or purchase of large real estate portfolios and the implementation of remediation plans. He has also directly handled both the prosecution and defense of many cost recovery actions involving both private PRP's and government agencies.