Shelley R. Smith

Ms. Smith counsels clients in commercial litigation and labor and employment matters. Ms. Smith joined Archer following a distinguished career in public service for the City of Philadelphia, most recently serving eight years as City Solicitor during Michael Nutter’s mayoral tenure. Ms. Smith represented the Mayor, City Council, all City elected officials, all City employees, Agencies, Boards, and Commissions. She is the City of Philadelphia’s longest-serving City Solicitor. As City Solicitor, she managed an office of 325 attorneys and was responsible for an $11-$14 million operating budget and an indemnities budget of $40 million.

During her tenure with the City’s Law Department, Ms. Smith handled nearly every facet of the Law Department’s practice in some capacity.  As a trial lawyer, Ms. Smith tried more than 60 federal civil jury trials to verdict, as well as hundreds of other litigation and policy matters. Significant matters included the 39th Police District litigation, NAACP v. City of Philadelphia, and the jury trials of Joseph Frazier v. City of Philadelphia, Estate of Shannon Schieber v. City of Philadelphia, and Robert Mitchell v. Mayor John F. Street. She also served as in-house legal counsel for former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Neal.

Ms. Smith subsequently headed the Law Department’s Affirmative Litigation Unit, which explored opportunities to pursue recovery on behalf of the City and initiated proceedings where appropriate and viable. For several years she headed the City’s Labor & Employment Unit, whose attorneys defended labor grievances and employment discrimination cases initiated in state and federal courts and administrative agencies, and she continued to managed the City’s collective bargaining and labor negotiations efforts even after her elevation to the position of Chair of the Law Department’s Corporate and Tax Group, where she managed the City’s transactional work, including real estate, tax and intellectual property matters.  After two intervening years in private practice, Ms. Smith’s career in government culminated in her 2008 appointment as City Solicitor, in which position she managed a full-service municipal law firm of 190 lawyers and 325 total staff, and directed, among many other individual matters, the City’s nearly continuous labor negotiations with its municipal unions; the effort to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works; the severance of the City’s relationship with the local Council of the Boy Scouts of America; the resolution of a dispute with the Philadelphia Eagles over stadium box revenue; strip-search and stop-and-frisk class actions; the negotiation of the Verizon FiOS franchise agreement; the legislative and procedural restructuring of the City’s real estate tax assessment process; and the transfer of the Gallery and Gallery II properties for redevelopment.

Ms. Smith’s more than 25 years of civil trial, risk management, litigation, and counseling experience  also includes organizational restructuring; internal investigations; personnel and human resources management and advice; the hiring, retention and termination of employees; and counseling and strategic and risk management advice in a variety of matters, including employee injury claims and coverage, constitutional tort claims, employee discipline, and related policies.

From 2003-2016 Ms. Smith was a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, which she chaired in 2007 and 2016.  From 2010 to 2015 she was a member of the Board of Directors of the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education Center (formerly Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center), which she also chaired from 2013-2015.  She is currently a member of the board of the Support Center for Child Advocates, and of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Advisory Board for Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts. She is a member of the Archer’s Diversity Committee and its Women Lawyers’ Network.


  • Chair of Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Member, Southeastern Pennsylvania Advisory Board of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts
  • Past President, National Smart Set, Philadelphia Chapter


  • “Minority Attorney on the Verge,” Pennsylvania Law Weekly/The Legal Intelligencer, 2007
  • Pennsylvania SuperLawyer, Philadelphia Magazine, 2005


Shelley Smith Joins Support Center for Child Advocates Board of Directors

New Jersey Passes Law To Eventually Increase Minimum Wage To $15 Per Hour

Shelley Smith to Present at DRI’s 19th Annual Personal Injury Practicum