Smith Horvath represents businesses and individuals in complex business and commercial disputes, securities arbitrations, bankruptcy litigation, regulatory matters, and select criminal matters. The Firm achieves practical results for clients by taking the time to understand their objectives and thoughtfully crafting a plan to reach them. Our representations are driven solely by the needs of the client and the matter at hand, freeing us to litigate with extraordinary creativity and relentlessness. The Firm's lawyers also draw on an unusual breadth of experience, combining battle-ready trial skills with a sophisticated understanding of business and financial affairs. The result is exceptional service to the client and rewarding work for the Firm's lawyers.
The Smith Horvath Method
The Firm employs a distinctive approach to litigation developed by John Smith and Matt Horvath. John and Matt have been working together, and comparing notes about litigation, for many years. During that time, they had the opportunity to observe a number of techniques and approaches used by other lawyers. From these observations, and after careful reflection, John and Matt reached the following three conclusions:
1. Many lawyers limit their own effectiveness by pursuing haphazard or reflexively conventional litigation strategies. These approaches sometimes meet the business needs of the law firm at the expense of the client or the matter at hand. We believe that the business structure of the Firm should support our effectiveness as lawyers, not detract from it. We also believe that litigation strategy should never be haphazard or conventional just because "that's the way it's always been done." We reject these limitations.
2. Most business and commercial disputes do not require or benefit from hundreds of overworked lawyers located in dozens of offices spread around the world. Bureaucracy, billable hour requirements, and bloated rates make it difficult for lawyers to serve their clients effectively. We believe that a small band of lawyers, guided by common principles and focused on their work, provides the most effective representation for the client. Our financial success and professional fulfillment come from our pursuit of excellence as lawyers, and working as a team allows us to reach our fullest potential.
3. In litigation, any supposed tradeoff between cost and effectiveness is ultimately a false choice. "Cheap" representation that results in the loss of the client's objectives is extremely costly. Conversely, the inefficiency and punishingly high cost of large firms may prevent them from doing all of the work that is necessary to advance the client's interests. We believe that inefficiency and undue expense are not in the interest of anyone, and strive to provide sophisticated and energetic representation at a practical cost.
The Smith Horvath Method exploits these opportunities. Our method is collaborative, work-intensive, and relentlessly focused on achieving the client's objectives. The Firm does not undertake a representation without formulating a plan for bringing it to a successful conclusion. We can accomplish more, and produce higher quality work, because we work as a team and draw on an unusual combination of skills, education, and experience. Moreover, we work our cases extremely hard, often at the very outset of the representation, because there is no substitute for mastering the applicable facts, law, and procedure. And because we are not limited by convention, or by the needs of our business structure, few of our adversaries can keep pace with the Firm's nimbleness, creativity, and dedication. The result is exceptional service to the client and rewarding work for the Firm's lawyers.
Smith Horvath is a litigation boutique with a varied practice. We represent businesses and individuals in complex business and commercial disputes, securities arbitrations, bankruptcy litigation, regulatory matters, and select criminal matters. Because every representation is unique, the Firm does not define or limit its work in terms of traditional practice areas.
Instead, we undertake litigation matters that present us with an opportunity to be difference-makers for clients, and that make sense for the Firm and the professional interests of its lawyers. We believe that the variety in our work keeps our thinking fresh and our skills sharp, and provides us with an advantage over adversaries restricted to a particular practice area, type of client, or fee arrangement. Few of our matters are routine, and we like it that way.
The Firm represents plaintiffs and defendants, and has the flexibility and willingness to employ different fee structures depending on the circumstances. We value a forthright discussion of anticipated fees and expenses with clients, because it empowers us to develop a comprehensive strategy for pursuing their interests in the most effective, cost-conscious way possible. We also believe that regular communication and careful planning foster a more constructive relationship and rewarding experience for both lawyer and client. In short, the Firm's lawyers are as practical and business-minded as its clients.
- Defended a national debt relief corporation in an investigation initiated by the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs and negotiated an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance.
- Secured payment for an international, biomedical specimen storage company from a drug maker that wound-up in an involuntary bankruptcy. The debtor assumed the underlying executory contract and business as usual was preserved.
- Defended a chief executive officer in a civil enforcement action brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Scored an unusual victory in the case by winning a motion to strike pejorative remarks and unproven conclusions from papers filed by a court-appointed receiver.
- Represented agents of major financial services firms in connection with certain FINRA Investigations.
- Represented a Fortune 500 company in an adversary proceeding filed by a Chapter 7 trustee and negotiated a successful resolution to the matter.
- Defended agents of a major financial services firm in a JAMS arbitration relating to an employment dispute involving claims of fraudulent misrepresentation and interference with a contract. Promptly secured a consent order dismissing the representatives.
- Counseled a Fortune 500 company with respect to preserving a debt owed by an individual who filed bankruptcy and securing a reaffirmation agreement for same.
- Represented a Georgia-based company in negotiating payment for past due invoices from a bank that was in the process of liquidating the assets of its customer - including materials recently supplied by the Firm's client - for the benefit of the bank. Secured payment pursuant to a confidential settlement agreement without filing suit.
- Represented a Georgia-based company performing credit repair services in an investigation initiated by the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs and negotiated an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance.
- Represented a large national bank in connection with litigation spawning from various commercial foreclosures. Represented and protected the bank's security interest in several bankruptcies involving real property.
- Represented an Atlanta-based businessman who was relocating when the buyer of his personal residence sought to avoid closing in a declining real estate market. Defeated pretextual claims regarding the "marketability of title" and the closing went forward without disruption.
- Represented an individual who entrusted more than $1 million in retirement savings to a stockbroker who grossly mishandled the investments. Initiated a FINRA arbitration against the stockbroker, Firm, and various control persons and settled the matter on favorable terms.
- Represented an Atlanta-based member of a limited liability company in a business dispute with the other member resulting in the division of assets and dissolution.
- Defended an Atlanta-based restaurant chain and its proprietor against an action brought by a landlord seeking to recover payments for a lease deal that never materialized. Identified legal deficiencies in the guaranty and resolved the matter during mediation.
- Represented a former employee who was terminated during a reduction in force, but secured a position with a competitor. Despite a rough economy, the former employer sought to disrupt the employee's new position by sending threatening letters to the new employer and claiming that the employee violated a restrictive covenant and trade secret statutes. The matter resolved after transmitting a letter demonstrating that the widely used restrictive covenant was unenforceable.
- Represented an Atlanta-based business that purchased a defective component for use in its boutique products. The business suffered financial and reputational harm when its nationally-distributed products later disintegrated. The Firm heavily litigated the matter, and after extensive discovery, it settled on favorable terms.
- Defended a former principal in a large Atlanta-based car dealer who was sued on a purported promissory note for monies loaned to a related limited liability company in which he was a member. Determined that the claims lacked merit, and secured a prompt dismissal of the action.
- Represented a New York-based medical supply company that was alleged to have sold a defective product to a company who later ordered more products, but then refused to pay for the goods. Investigated and analyzed the product liability claims in negotiating a settlement.
- Represented a roofing company in a contract dispute with the owner and developer of apartment complexes and condominiums across the United States. After entering into a contract to replace the roof, the owner decided instead to use the more than $400,000 in insurance proceeds for other purposes. Successfully settled the matter following months of contentious litigation in federal court.
- Represented a New York-based clothing company in successfully defeating a temporary restraining order filed by an anchor tenant to prevent it from opening and competing in the mall selected for its store location. The anchor tenant unsuccessfully sought to rely on a non-compete provision contained in its lease with the landlord to thwart competition.
- Represented a small business owner in negotiating the payment of almost a year's worth of past due rent from a commercial tenant.
- Represented a Texas-based food distributor in a dispute with a warehouse that improperly handled its goods. The analysis involved evaluating the legal effect of a warehouse's receipt of a delivery order and issuance of a warehouse receipt under the Uniform Commercial Code. Persuaded the warehouse to accept liability for the negligent transfer of goods and to pay for the lost shipment in full.
- Represented a regionally-based car wash business in an engineering malpractice action. The client's property featured a steep slope sharply descending to a creek below. The slope eventually failed causing nearly $500,000 of damage. Filed suit based on the engineer's failure to design and implement a stable slope and retaining wall. The matter settled on favorable terms at mediation shortly after the lawsuit commenced and without the need for discovery.
- Represented a chief financial officer in an action against his former employer and related entities for failing to make good on a severance agreement. The matter was favorably resolved shortly after the case was filed.
- Represented an individual in a dispute involving negative information furnished to credit reporting agencies by one of the nation's largest mortgage lenders. Persuaded the mortgage lender to amend its reporting on the client's credit history by transmitting a Notice of Dispute pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Represented a family who collectively invested nearly $300,000 with an independent broker-dealer following a cold call. Family was targeted based on ethnicity and its investments were churned and gambled away. Initiated a FINRA arbitration and following extensive discovery the matter settled on favorable terms.
- Represented a former registered representative of a major financial firm in recovering monies owed by another registered representative based on a breach of an agreement. Initiate a FINRA arbitration and won 100% of compensatory damages following a hearing.
- Defended a family against a major bank seeking to recover monies from an account that was overdrawn based on a fraudulent transaction. Moved to dismiss in favor of arbitration, but settled case for nominal amount prior to ruling thereon.
- Represented registered representative and negotiated a resolution in connection with an investigation launched by FINRA Department of Enforcement out of Washington, D.C.
- Represented member of a company in connection with highly contentious sale negotiations with a minority shareholder. The Firm was retained in the midst of intense negotiations and with litigation looming. The Firm quickly got up to speed on the pending issues and was able to secure a deal on favorable terms.
"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters."
- Frederick Douglass