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- B.A., Lafayette College
- cum laude
- M.A., Teachers College at Columbia University
- J.D., Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 2003
Fellowships, Leadership & Recognition
- Board Treasurer, Urban Bush Women
- Founding Member, The Judith S. Kaye High School
- Member, Committee on Law, Youth & Citizenship, New York State Bar Association
- Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP; 2013, 2014, 2015
- Empire State Counsel Award; New York State Bar Association; 2013, 2014
- Extraordinary Commitment to Public Service Award; Greenberg Traurig, LLP; 2008
- Above & Beyond Award, Sanctuary for Families, 2007
- Cardozo Service and Achievement Award, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 2003
- Articles Editor, Cardozo Journal of International & Comparative Law
Bar and Court Admissions
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York and Eastern District of New York
- New York
Jennifer L. Smith is the Chief Operating and Financial Officer at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP. In that role, Jennifer oversees all aspects of the firm’s day-to-day operations and financial management, as well as the execution of its longer-term strategic plan.
Jennifer joined the firm after spending several years in public service. Most recently, Jennifer served as Deputy Chief of the Oversight & Investigations Unit of the New York City Council, where she oversaw investigations into possible systemic waste, mismanagement, and abuse of process at city agencies. Previously, Jennifer was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo as Special Assistant to the Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), a member of the agency’s Executive Team. Jennifer’s wide-ranging portfolio at DFS included investigations and enforcement matters, leadership of external and interagency communication efforts, and significant regulatory, legislative, and policy collaboration across multiple sectors.
Before turning to government service, Jennifer was a senior litigation associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, where she conducted complex litigation for a diverse group of commercial clients. Jennifer also has extensive experience in appellate representations and arbitration, including being chosen by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye to serve as Tribunal Secretary in a multi-million-dollar International Chamber of Commerce arbitration. During her time at Skadden, Jennifer assumed many roles in a range of organizations, including the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, the Judith S. Kaye Youth Court Fund, and the Skadden Family Law Advocate Group. Jennifer also served as an Assistant Counsel for the New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination and helped to launch the New York International Arbitration Center. Prior to Skadden, Jennifer worked as a litigation associate at Bolan Jahnsen Dacey Esqs. and Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and also served as a pro bono attorney at the Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services at Sanctuary for Families.
Throughout her legal career, Jennifer maintained an active and substantial pro bono practice, with a particular focus on family law and immigration litigation. She has represented clients battling against employment discrimination, housing insecurity and eviction, and cruel and unusual sentencing, among other obstacles. Past employers have recognized Jennifer’s commitment to public service. She received the Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award at Skadden for three consecutive years, the Extraordinary Commitment to Public Service Award from Greenberg Traurig, and the Above & Beyond Award from Sanctuary for Families. Jennifer was also honored with the Empire State Counsel Award by the New York State Bar Association in 2013 and 2014.
Jennifer’s commitment to community involvement and public service extends beyond her pro bono legal representations, particularly her efforts to make a difference in the lives of children. She is a founding member of The Judith S. Kaye High School, a District 75 school serving court-involved youth of New York City who are transitioning out of the criminal justice system and back into school, and also serves on the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Law, Youth & Citizenship. Jennifer is also the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Urban Bush Women, a dance company giving voice to the untold stories of the African Diaspora through innovative performance and community engagement.
Jennifer is a graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she was the Articles Editor of the Cardozo Journal of International & Comparative Law, worked with the Innocence Project and Courtroom Advocates Project, and was awarded the Cardozo Service and Achievement Award. Jennifer received a Master of Arts in Student Personnel Administration from Teachers College at Columbia University, and holds a B.A., cum laude from Lafayette College.