Catherine Smith Vincent L. Bradford Professor of Law



Office: 435 Lewis Hall

SSRN  •  Scholarly Commons

Area of Expertise

Constitutional Law, Child Law, Torts


JD, University of South Carolina

MPA, University of South Carolina

BA, Wofford College


Catherine Smith joined W&L Law in 2024 as the Vincent L. Bradford Professor of Law. Professor Smith teaches Torts and Children and the Constitution. Her teaching, scholarship, and service seeks to understand and contribute to a robust children's equality law. In 2010, her essay "The Rights of the Child" was selected as a winning essay in the Association of American Law School writing competition titled "On the Cutting Edge: Charting the Future of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Scholarship." In 2011, her article "Equal Protection for Children of Gay and Lesbian Parents: Challenging the Three Pillars of Exclusion - Legitimacy, Dual-Gender Parenting, and Biology" was awarded the Williams Institute's Dukeminier Award as one of 2010's best sexual orientation law review articles.

In 2015, Professor Smith's co-authored amicus brief on the rights of children of same-sex couples was cited and relied upon in the landmark same-sex marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges. Smith contributed to a child-centric chapter ("concurring opinion") in the book "What Obergefell v. Hodges Should Have Said: The Nation's Top Legal Experts Rewrite America's Same-Sex Marriage Opinion" (Jack M. Balkin, ed., Yale University Press, 2020). Professor Smith currently serves as an expert in Juliana v. United States and Navahine v. Hawai'i Department of Transportation, two ground-breaking, youth-led climate cases.

In 2023, with the support of a $2.2 million anonymous gift, Professor Smith co-founded the Consortium for the Advancement of Children's Constitutional Rights with Professors Robin Walker Sterling (Northwestern Pritzker School of Law) and Tanya Washington (Georgia State College of Law). In 2024, the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy held a day-long symposium entitled, "Children's Equality Law: Engaging the Work of Professor Catherine Smith."

After graduating from the University of South Carolina School of Law, Professor Smith clerked for the late Chief Judge Henry A. Politz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and for U.S. Magistrate Judge William M. Catoe, Jr. She then served as a legal fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center before entering legal academia. Immediately before joining W&L, Professor Smith served on the faculty the University of Denver Sturm College of Law for twenty years.