Areas of Practice
  • Yale Law School, J.D., 1979
  • Oxford University, England, M.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, 1976; Rhodes Scholar
  • Washington & Lee University, B.A. in English, 1973; Phi Beta Kappa; Omicron Delta Kappa
Bar Admissions
  • Alabama, 1982
  • District of Columbia, 1979
Ralph Smith II
Special Counsel
Suite 1100
420 20th St N
Birmingham, AL 35203
205.244.5270 tel
205.244.5271 fax

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Ralph Smith is special counsel in the firm's Birmingham office, where his practice focuses on general corporate and business matters, international transactions, healthcare, higher education, and NCAA compliance.

Prior to joining Jones Walker, Mr. Smith spent 25 years in private law practice in Washington, D.C. and Birmingham before joining the University of Alabama System in 2004 as General Counsel and Member of the Chancellor's Senior Policy Staff. Mr. Smith also served the University as Distinguished Lecturer of Law and Special Advisor for International Trade and Economic Development.

A Rhodes Scholar, Mr. Smith received his undergraduate degree from Washington & Lee University and his juris doctor degree from Yale Law School. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where he received an M.A. in politics, philosophy, and economics. 

Mr. Smith has been an officer, director, or trustee of numerous educational, charitable, and civic organizations, including the Association of American Rhodes Scholars, of which he is currently the President. He is also responsible for the Rhodes Scholarship selection process in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the American Caribbean.  

In addition to his law practice, Mr. Smith serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Ralph Smith Group (, a global consulting company for business and higher education. He is also a co-founder of the Global Innovation Alliance, a consortium of business, academic, and government institutions in Asia, Europe, North and South America to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. He was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 to the Order of St. John, an Order of Chivalry of the British Crown with historical roots in the 11th century Knights Hospitaller and Knights of Malta.


  • Distinguished Lecturer of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law
  • General Counsel, University of Alabama System (2004–2012)
  • AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating in Martindale-Hubbell
  • Responsible for the selection of Rhodes Scholars in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
  • Listed in Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in the World by Marquis 




  • "Challenge and Opportunities for Corporate Leadership", November 12, 2013
  • "Building the Rhodes Community", September 18, 2013
  • National Association of Fellowships Advisors Conference, July 25, 2013
  • "Scandal and Reform" Course
  • "Selected Problems in Corporate Law" Course
  • "Challenges and Opportunities in Higher Education", 2011


  • Review of The Western Literary Canon in Context by John M. Bowers
    The American Oxonian, Vol. XCVII, No. 2, Spring 2010
  • "Laws Never a Good Substitute for Integrity"
    Birmingham News, April 20, 2003
  • "Mandela, Rhodes Union Triumph of Faith"
    Birmingham News, February 16, 2003
  • "One Hundred Years of the Rhodes Scholarship: Closing a Circle of History in Southern Africa"
    Occasional Paper Series, February 2003
  • "Corporate Governance and Accounting Scandals: The Virtue of Virtue in a Venal World"
    Occasional Paper Series, Winter 2003
  • "A New Year's Practice Check-up: Five Ways to Improve the Legal Health (and Profitability) of your Medical Practice"
    M.D. News, January 2003
  • "Federal Suits Under Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Provisions"
    Environmental Regulation Analyst, 1981
  • "Beyond the Treaties: Limitation on Neutrality in the Panama Canal"
    Yale Studies in World Public Order, 1977


Professional Activities and Honors

  • Association of American Rhodes Scholars, President (2016) 
  • Named a Distinguished Friend of Oxford in 2015 for his service to Oxford University and the Rhodes Trust
  • Alabama Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee (1982–1987, 1998 to date; Alabama Secretary, 2003–2004; Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana District Secretary, 2004 to date)
  • Alabama State Bar
  • American Bar Association (Site Visit Accreditation Team, George Mason University School of Law, 2007)
  • American Trust for Oxford University (Administrator, 2008 to date)
  • Association of American Rhodes Scholars (Director, 2006 to date; Member, Executive Committee, 2008 to date)
  • Birmingham-Southern College (Member, Honors Scholarship Selection Committee, 1987; Member, President's Advisory Council, 1987–1988)
  • Delegate and Presenter to Rhodes Trust 110th Anniversary Conference (Oxford, England, September 2013)
  • Delegate to Rhodes Trust Centenary Reunion and Conferences (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 2005; London/Oxford, England, July 2003; Cape Town, South Africa, January 2003) 
  • District of Columbia Bar
  • Farrah Law Society, University of Alabama School of Law (Director, 2004–2013)
  • Global Innovation Alliance (Co-founder, 2012)
  • The University of the South (Member, Visiting Committee College of Arts and Sciences, 2008–2010)
  • UAB Leadership Council (1988–1991)
  • University of Alabama (Special Advisor for International Trade and Economic Development, 2012–2013)
  • University of Alabama Honors College (Adjunct Professor, 2005–2013; Board of Visitors, 2006–2007)
  • University of Alabama Law School Foundation (Director, 2008–2013)
  • University of Alabama School of Law (Distinguished Lecturer of Law, 2005–2013)
  • University of Alabama System Delegation to India (March 2011) and Argentina (June 2012) promoting Academic Collaboration and Economic Development 
  • Washington & Lee University Alumni Association (President, Birmingham Chapter, 1985–1986)
  • Washington & Lee University Capital Campaign (1990–1995, 1998–2003)
  • Yale Law School Association (Member, Executive Committee, 1990–1993)
  • Yale Law School Fund (Director, 1982–1987)

Civic/Community Activities and Honors

  • Alabama Law Foundation (Fellow, 2008 to date)
  • Alabama School of Fine Arts Foundation (Director, 1993–1998)
  • American Bar Association Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity (2008–2010)
  • Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations (Director, 1996–2002)
  • Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (Director, 2001–2004; Trustee, 1993–2000)
  • Episcopal Diocese of Alabama (Chancellor, 2000–2003)
  • Episcopal Foundation of Jefferson County, St. Martin's In-The-Pines Nursing and Retirement Community (Trustee, 1988–1990; President, 1990)
  • Highlands Day School (Trustee, 1985–1989)
  • Leadership Birmingham (1988)
  • Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation (Founding Director, 1993)
  • Order of St. John (2013 to date)
  • Oxford University (Recipient of the Distinguished Friend of Oxford Award, 2015)
  • Rotaract Club of Birmingham (Recipient of The Mentor Birmingham Award, 2012)
  • Rotary Club of Birmingham (Director/Vice-President, 1988–1989, 1990–1991, 2001–2002, 2010–2012; Paul Harris Fellow)
  • Saint Luke's Episcopal Church (Vestry, 1988–1991, 1996–1999; Junior Warden, 1989–1990; Senior Warden, 1990–1991)