About Smith & Downey

Smith & Downey is one of the nation’s leading law firms concentrating in employee benefits, executive compensation, and human resources law. The firm’s attorneys are among the most respected in their fields, continually sought out not only as experienced and highly respected counsel but also as speakers, law professors, and expert witnesses. The firm’s attorneys also write several of the leading books and periodicals in their fields.

The firm uses aggressive overhead controls and organizational efficiencies to price its services at levels considerably below those of its peer firms and, despite its leadership position in its industry, typically even below attorneys who do not possess the firm’s level of focused skills and experience.

The firm’s approach is to rapidly identify practical answers to client questions that not only resolve immediate inquiries but that also help to build risk management procedures that reduce clients’ future exposure.

History & Vision

Smith & Downey was founded in 1992 by three attorneys from a large, multi-national law firm with a strong belief that the prevailing format for a “Wall Street-type” ERISA practice was not the best format for the typical client.

The founders’ vision was to create a unique environment in which outstanding, business judgment-oriented attorneys could have unlimited access to gratifying client relationships and diverse and stimulating work, all within a very flexible work environment.

Through aggressive overhead management, careful selection of professionals, and a highly focused practice, Smith & Downey has developed a model for providing “Wall Street” level services at “Main Street” rates.

Smith & Downey demonstrates market dominance in a number of key areas:

  • Tax-qualified retirement plans
  • Non-qualified deferred compensation
  • Equity compensation
  • Governmental employer representation
  • Health care industry employee benefits
  • Executive compensation
  • Church employer representation
  • Counseling employers with regard to the Affordable Care Act and all other aspects of health and welfare benefit plans
  • ERISA support for bankruptcy and liquidation professionals
  • Employee benefits and executive compensation issues in mergers, acquisitions and dispositions


Smith and Downey’s clients range from professional and entrepreneurial firms with just a few employees to international conglomerates with hundreds of thousands of employees, and are found in all areas of the country. The firm represents publicly traded, privately held, tax-exempt, church related and governmental employers, as well as service firms — such as financial institutions, third-party administrators, benefits consultants, insurance professionals and accounting firms — that provide employers with employee benefits and executive compensation services.

The firm regularly advises other law firms that require, but do not possess, specific experience in the firm’s practice areas.

Recent E-Alerts

During the early part of summer, as COVID-19 was subsiding, a large number of employers across the country began to accelerate plans to fully reopen their offices, with many t… Read More

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Barry Downey will be speaking at the NAPA 2021 Nonqualified Plan Advisor Conference, October 24-26, 2021, in Dallas, TX. Registration is required to p… Read More

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