Exec Smith's son joins Towson land-use law firm
Baltimore County lawyers and longtime friends Michael Paul Smith and David Gildea made some news during the recent political season by holding a series of fund-raisers for three County Council candidates, and they've decided to take the partnership a step further. Starting in January, Smith will leave his practice in Reisterstown and move to Gildea's shop in Towson, Gildea & Schmidt, a firm specializing in land-use law that also includes former county zoning commissioner, Lawrence E. Schmidt.
"It's the right time in my career to encounter new challenges," said Smith, the son of County Executive James T. Smith Jr., who will be adding his name to the Towson firm.
With the elder Smith leaving office next month after serving the legal limit of two terms, the son will return from what he described as a self-imposed exile from practicing land-use law in Baltimore County. The younger Smith maintained that distance from county land-use cases since his father took office to avoid actual or apparent conflicts of interest. Smith has taken land-use cases in other counties, along with his other work in medical malpractice, personal injury and civil litigation.
He said he's had long-standing friendship with Gildea, Schmidt and other lawyers in the firm, one of whom he's known since they were teenagers, and the two practices will complement each others' strengths.
"I think it's a good fit," said Smith, 44, who lives in Reisterstown, minutes from where he works in the Reisterstown office of the Towson-based firm, Bodie, Dolina, Smith & Hobbs. He said he's been there since he graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law, he said, and figured it was time "to move in a new direction, push myself out of my comfort zone."
Critics said the fundraisers conducted on behalf of Democrats Tom Quirk, Cathy A. Bevins and Gordon Harden were part of an effort by the elder Smith to put his stamp on the new council past his time in office, but his son said it was nothing more than keeping up family tradition of political activism. The elder Smith served on the County Council and as a Circuit Court judge before being elected executive in 2002.
Quirk in District 1 and Bevins in District 6 won their races. Harden was defeated in the District 5 primary by Mike Ertel, who in turn lost the general election to Republican David Marks.
"It was how I was brought up," Smith said. "I started out banging on doors for my father when he was running for County Council."