- Shareholder Rights & Fiduciary Duty Litigation
- Shareholder Derivative Actions
- Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions
- Securities Fraud Class Actions
- Antitrust Class Actions
- ERISA Litigation
- Yale Law School (J.D. 1992)
- University of California, Berkeley (B.A. 1988)
- Los Angeles County Bar Association
- Super Lawyers (2015-2019)
- U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Central, and Southern Districts of California
- U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits
Craig W. Smith has played a central role in the firm’s successes on behalf of shareholders and public corporations. His practice focuses on representing shareholders in derivative and securities fraud class actions. His clients include individuals and institutional investors with holdings in the banking and finance, biotechnology, defense, education, information technology, leisure, consumer goods, and pharmaceutical industries. Mr. Smith also serves as Robbins’s LLP General Counsel. For his efforts, Mr. Smith has been recognized by his peers and has been a selected Super Lawyers for 5 years.
Before joining Robbins LLP, Mr. Smith served for four years as division and regional counsel for UBS Financial Services, Inc., where he advised management regarding litigation, regulatory, and employment matters arising in the company’s Northern Pacific region. He spent the first decade of his career at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where he defended Fortune 500 companies and professional services firms in securities fraud class actions, shareholder derivative litigation, SEC investigations and enforcement actions, and professional malpractice and business tort matters. Mr. Smith served for five years on O’Melveny & Myers’ firm-wide Pro Bono Committee.
Mr. Smith earned his Juris Doctor in 1992 from Yale Law School. At Yale, he externed for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Haven, Connecticut. Mr. Smith attended University of California, Berkeley, where he was initiated into Phi Beta Kapa as a junior and earned his Bachelor of Arts with Highest Honors in Political Science and Highest Distinction in Letters and Science.
Selected Noteworthy Cases
Robbins LLP served as lead counsel in shareholder derivative litigation brought on behalf of Fifth Street Finance Corp., to challenge alleged conflicts of interest in Fifth Street's relationship with its investment advisor, FSAM. Plaintiffs alleged that certain Fifth Street and FSAM officers and directors caused Fifth Street to make reckless investments, use bogus accounting, and pay excessive fees to inflate FSAM's perceived value in the lead up to FSAM's initial public offering. Mr Smith led the settlement negotiations that resulted in advisory fee reductions worth at least $30 million and comprehensive corporate governance, oversight, and conflicts management enhancements. In re Fifth Street Finance Corp. Shareholder Derivative Litigation, Lead Case No. 3:15-cv-01795-RNC (D. Conn. Dec. 13, 2016)
Avon Products, Inc.
Mr. Smith and his team played a leading role in a shareholder derivative suit brought on behalf of Avon Products, Inc., against certain officers and directors who plaintiffs allege turned a blind eye to bribes made in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to secure the first foreign direct sales license in China. Mr. Smith led the negotiations that resulted in Avon's agreement to adopt a comprehensive corporate governance and compliance reform program. The Wall Street Journal praised the settlement as "a victory for shareholders looking for accountability from the business." Pritika v. Jung, No. 651479/2015 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 1, 2015).
Career Education Corporation
Mr. Smith played a leading role in shareholder derivative litigation brought on behalf of Career Education Corporation against officers and directors who plaintiffs alleged caused its for-profit schools to falsify job placement and student loan repayment rates, fail to meet accreditation standards, and jeopardize access to the Title IV federal student loan funds that account for the lion's share of its revenues. Mr. Smith and his co-counsel in Alex v. McCullough, No. 1:12-cv-08834 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 5, 2012); Bangari v. Lesnik, No. 1:11-CH-41973 (Ill. Cir. Ct.-Cook Cty. Dec. 11, 2011); and Cook v. McCullough, No. 1:11-cv-09119 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 22, 2011), negotiated a global settlement that secured a $20 million recovery for Career Education, as well as comprehensive board and management-level governance and oversight reforms.
Mr. Smith spearheaded the litigation and settlements in a number of shareholder derivative actions brought on behalf of biotechnology companies, including Geron Corporation, MannKind Corporation, and CTI BioPharma (f.k.a. Cell Therapeutics), that led to their adoption of state-of-the-art clinical trial and disclosure oversight and internal controls programs, following costly mismanagement of clinical trials and publication of misleading disclosures. Oriente v. Scarlett et al., No. CVV528121 (Cal. Super. Ct.-San Mateo Cty. April 21, 2014); In re MannKind Corp. Derivative Litigation, No. 1:11-cv-05003-GAF-SSx (C.D. Ca. June 13, 2011); In re Cell Therapeutics, Inc., Derivative Litigation, No. 2:10-cv-00564-MJP (W.D. Wash.-Seattle Apr. 1, 2010).
Mr. Smith and his team's litigation efforts prompted Heckmann Corporation's Board of Directors to create a Special Litigation Committee to evaluate legal claims arising from the company's disastrous acquisition of a China-based water company. Mr. Smith persuaded the Committee to adopt reforms designed to enhance transaction due diligence, disclose practices, and robust investigation of acquisition targets' internal controls over accounting and financial reporting. Hess v. Heckmann et al., No. INC 10010407 (Cal. Super. Ct.-Riverside Cty. Nov. 18, 2010).
Brocade Communication Systems, Inc.
ade Communication Systems, Inc. Mr. Smith played a key role in persuading the Special Litigation Committee formed by Brocade's Board to prosecute stock option backdating claims against former officers and directors. In re Brocade Communication Systems, Inc., Derivative Litigation, No. 1:05-cv-041683 (Cal. Super. Ct.-Santa Clara Cty. Jan. 28, 2010). Mr. Smith was part of the four-lawyer team that met with the Committee and convinced it to retain the firm as co-counsel and to pursue the claims. Brocade recovered tens of millions of dollars and extinguished its obligation to fund the criminal defense of its former CEO.