Joel H. Smith

South Carolina

Bowman and Brooke LLP
1441 Main Street
Suite 1200
Columbia, SC 29201-2897

Tel: 803.726.7422


Joel Smith is a nationally recognized first-chair trial lawyer with more than 40 years of experience dedicated to defending high exposure product liability and mass tort litigation. As lead trial counsel, he has tried to verdict over 20 high-exposure product liability trials across the country. In recent years, he has been a lead counsel in two of the biggest product liability crises to hit the automotive industry, including Toyota’s unintended acceleration litigation and Honda’s handling of the massive recall of Takata air bags.

Named a Product Liability MVP in 2015 by Law360, Joel has represented manufacturers of automobiles, tires, forklifts and other equipment, as well as pharmaceuticals and consumer products. Joel’s experience defending automotive manufacturers in catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims nationwide includes roof crush, air bags, restraints, rollover, crashworthiness, unintended acceleration, and tire defects, among others.

In pharmaceutical litigation, his experience includes lead trial counsel for a major pharmaceutical company in each of the birth defect litigation (MDL) and testosterone replacement therapy litigation. He was given a first-chair role in the defense of PPA litigation and played a leading role in two MDL Daubert hearings. Joel was also selected as trial counsel in hormone therapy cases and cases involving infant cough/cold products.

Joel’s work in these mass torts has taken him beyond the courtroom to interactions with the Department of Justice, Regulations, State Attorney Generals and Congressional committees.

Clients and peers reviewing Joel for Chambers in 2021 stated that Joel Smith is a sought-after trial lawyer who acts as national counsel on several mass torts for major automotive companies. “He is just fantastic on his feet in the courtroom, extremely knowledgeable and knows how to take technical issues and explain them in comprehensive ways” and “a good strategist with a lot of trial experience.”

  • University of South Carolina School of Law, J.D., 1981
    Order of Wig and Robe
  • College of Charleston, B.A., 1978
    Major:  Political Science
Bar Admissions:
  • South Carolina, 1981
Court Admissions:
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1982
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 2005
  • U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina, 1982
  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado, 2005
  • Law360
    —Product Liability MVP, 2015
  • Chambers USA
    —Named in Nationwide Automotive Spotlight, 2008 – 2022
    —Nationwide Product Liability & Mass Torts, 2008 – 2022
    —South Carolina Litigation Band 1: General Commercial, 2008 – 2022
  • The Legal 500 
    —Named in Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Automotive/Transport, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018,  2020 – 2022
  • Benchmark Litigation
    —National “Litigation Star”, Product Liability, 2015
    —”Local Litigation Star,” Product Liability, 2014 – 2021
  • Who’s Who Legal
    —International Who’s Who of Product Liability Defence Lawyers, 2010 – 2015, 2018 – 2021
  • Best Lawyers in America
    —Listed for Product Liability Litigation – Defendants “Lawyer of the Year” in Columbia, 2016; Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants, 2012, 2014 – 2017; Product Liability Litigation, 2001 – 2002, 2011, 2016 – 2017, 2021; Personal Injury Litigation, 2001 – 2002, 2011, 2021; Bet-The-Company Litigation, 2001 – 2002, 2009, 2017, 2021; Commercial Litigation, 2001 – 2002, 2006, 2017, 2021
  • Super Lawyers Magazine
    —South Carolina Super Lawyers 2008 – 2021
  • Honda North America, Inc.
    —Trial Lawyer of the Year, 2004
Bowman and Brooke has defended thousands of wrongful death, catastrophic personal injury and other product liability claims brought against motor vehicle, chemical, construction, drug and medical device, heavy equipment and recreational equipment manufacturers. Day in and day out, we challenge well-financed plaintiff attorneys in locales unfriendly to business interests across the country. Through intensive preparation, creative presentation and persuasion, we become your advocates in both the courtroom and at the bargaining table.

We tailor our advocacy to your needs. Our legal teams develop a personal knowledge and appreciation of your organization’s business and culture as well as your product design, testing and quality control procedures. We develop a deep understanding of the technical and scientific principles applicable to your products. We field a team of trial lawyers, paralegals, investigators and experts devoted to your case from start to finish. We individualize our communication with you, the in-house lawyers and engineers who provide critical perspectives, experiences and skills to the defense team.

Bowman and Brooke LLP is a nationally recognized trial firm with one of the largest product liability practices in the country.

Since 1985, we have defended corporate clients as both lead trial counsel and national coordinating counsel in high-exposure and technically intricate lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions. The firm’s attorneys defend a variety of corporate clients, including Global 500 and internationally-based companies, in widely publicized catastrophic injury and wrongful death matters as well as other complex litigation. We have tried cases in more than 350 courthouses in 48 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and several Canadian provinces.

We regularly try precedent-setting bellwether cases and have become a national presence in defending our clients in class actions, federal multi-district litigation, state consolidated actions and other complex matters. Our resources go beyond our core group of first-chair trial lawyers to include the legal analysis and briefing brainpower necessary to aggressively and tirelessly pursue the results our clients demand, both in the boardroom and in the courtroom.