Terry J. Smith



  • Cornell Law School, J.D., 1984
  • Lawrence University, B.A., magna cum laude, 1981
    • Phi Beta Kappa
    • Henry M. Wriston Scholar

Practice Areas

  • Employment Litigation
  • Trade Secrets
  • Non-Compete Litigation
  • Trials
  • Arbitration and Mediation
  • Labor and Employment Law


  • Illinois, 1987
  • Wisconsin, 1984
  • District of Columbia, 1984
  • U. S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1984
  • U. S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1986
  • U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 1992
  • U. S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 1987
  • U. S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar, 1987
  • U. S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, 1984
  • U. S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, 1984
  • Admitted as trial counsel for clients in U.S. District Courts and state courts throughout the United States for specific cases on special case or pro hac vice basis


  • Chicago Bar Association, Member: Labor and Employment Law and Federal Civil Practice Committees
  • Seventh Circuit Bar Association
  • American Bar Association, Member: Labor and Employment Law Section
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Terry J. Smith

Terry J. Smith is a partner with Smith O’Callaghan & White. He has represented employers in all aspects of labor and employment law for more than 30 years, representing and regularly advising corporate defendants in litigation involving labor and employment matters in federal and state courts, and administrative agencies, throughout the United States. Prior to founding a boutique firm, Mr. Smith was a partner with Schiff Hardin & Waite in Chicago and began his career with Foley & Lardner in Milwaukee.

He has been named an Illinois Super Lawyer for 18 consecutive years, from 2007 to 2024, representing the top 5% of all attorneys in the State of Illinois. Mr. Smith has been awarded the AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating for ethics and legal ability. He has led Smith O’Callaghan & White to a place among “Go-To Law Firms” for corporate counsel and national recognition as a “best-in-class” boutique law firm providing exemplary client focus and service.

Mr. Smith deals extensively with all phases of employment-related litigation in the federal and state courts — from pre-litigation counsel, to discovery, to dispositive motions, to trial. He has represented employers in single-party and multi-party litigation. His experience encompasses cases involving employment discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, breach of employment contract, trade secret misappropriation, covenants not-to-compete, unfair competition, employee pirating, breach of fiduciary duty, ERISA obligations in reductions-in-force, workplace defamation and many other labor and employment issues. He has successfully litigated these cases throughout the country.

Mr. Smith also has represented employers in a number of precedent-setting cases, including cases involving: the doctrine of inevitable disclosure of trade secrets, legal obligations of employers in reductions-in-force, workplace defamation law favorable to all Illinois employers on absolute privilege and self-publication, no individual supervisor liability under Title VII, notice requirements in alleged harassment cases, arbitration of private employment contract disputes and the first case to reach the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit substantively interpreting the FMLA. He also has successfully defended employers in many cases involving claims of employment discrimination, sexual harassment and other workplace issues that have resulted in reported decisions favorable to employers in the federal and state courts. He has extensive experience representing employers in administrative agency investigations, and in labor arbitrations and mediations.

Mr. Smith regularly counsels companies and other law firms on legal compliance, avoidance of employee claims and alternative dispute resolution. His labor and employment counsel encompasses problematic terminations, employment contracts and restrictive covenants, harassment issues, disability accommodation, FMLA compliance and a wide range of other workplace issues.

Recognition & Achievements

  • Successful representation of employers as lead trial counsel in well over 200 federal and state court cases and labor arbitrations – and hundreds of non-litigated matters, involving the full spectrum of trade secrets, non-compete, and labor and employment law.
  • Federal and state court cases, labor arbitrations or specific labor and employment matters handled in 28 states over career, including in 19 different U.S. District Courts.
  • Trial counsel in several federal and state court cases establishing new law and defenses favorable to employers on labor and employment issues in litigation.
  • Shepherding of Smith O’Callaghan & White to position among many very large firms as “Go-To Law Firm” for labor and employment in surveys conducted by Corporate Counsel magazine and to the “Client Service A-Team” for first-rate client focus and service in BTI Consulting Group’s nationwide survey of corporate counsel. Only a handful of boutique firms nationally were recognized in these surveys.
    See All Awards
  • AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell Highest rating for legal ability and ethics
  • Named Illinois Super Lawyer
    in Labor and Employment Law
    Eighteen consecutive years, 2007-2024
    Chicago magazine
  • Speaker and Panelist
    with U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer
    Chicago Law Bulletin’s 8th Annual Employment Law Conference
    September 19, 2013, Chicago, Illinois
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
    Trial Lawyers Honorary Society
  • Recognized by peers as a Leading Lawyer
    Employment Law: Management, 2009-2018
    Law Bulletin Publishing Company
  • In 2009 and 2010, selected for inclusion
    in Corporate Counsel Edition of Super Lawyers magazine
  • National Institute of Trial Advocacy,
    Boulder, Colorado
  • Quoted in several publications, including the front page of the Business Section of Chicago Tribune (subject matter did not involve client of firm); “Important Noncompete Rulings for 2015,” Employment Law360; and “Employment Law Roundtable” in Illinois Legal Times. Co-Author, Using the Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine in Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) Cases in Employment Law360, July 14, 2017, analyzing use of inevitable disclosure doctrine in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. Link to Employment Law360, July 14, 2017, Article and PDF of Article.
  • Featured as one of America’s Premier Lawyers on Forbes Magazine’s Sky Radio. An audio of interview can be found on Client Alerts & Updates page at item dated January, 2007.
    Listen to Sky Radio Interview – Windows Media (.wma)
  • Speaker and Presenter
    Select Counsel Webinar
    “Non-Competes, Trade Secrets, Departing Employees and Raiding:
    Key Tips for In-House Counsel to Protect Your Company’s Interests”
    June 27, 2018
    Link to Webinar
  • Founding Partner
    Smith O’Callaghan & White
    January, 2000

Representative Reported Decisions

Brill v. McDonald’s Corporation, 28 F.3d 633 (7th Cir.)
Defense of employer in age discrimination lawsuit, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirming dismissal of case.

Johnson v. Indopco, Inc., 887 F. Supp. 1092 (N.D. Ill.), aff’d, 79 F.3d 1150, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 6313 (7th Cir.)
Defense of retaliatory discharge and race discrimination lawsuit, action in its entirety found barred by discovery of misappropriated documents and summary judgment entered in favor of employer on all claims.

Wohl v. Spectrum Mfg., Inc., 94 F.3d 353 (7th Cir.)
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals evaluating factors to be considered in determining whether employer has demonstrated legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for employment action in cases involving alleged age discrimination.

Kelley v. Crosfield Catalysts, 135 F.3d 1202 (7th Cir.) and 962 F. Supp. 1047 (N.D. Ill.)
First case to reach the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals interpreting the breadth of protections afforded under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).

Ottley v. Anixter Inc., No. 11-2502-JTM, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147763 (D. Kan.)
Motion to dismiss granted in favor of employer in alleged sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit, dismissing action in its entirety based on both procedural and substantive reasons.

Adamczyk, et al. v. Lever Brothers Company, 991 F. Supp. 931 (N.D. Ill.), 33 F. Supp. 2d 679 (N.D. Ill.) and 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3494 (N.D. Ill.)
Summary judgment entered in favor of employer in multi-plaintiff employment contract and ERISA case challenging employer legal obligations in reductions-in-force.

Dikcis v. Indopco, Inc., 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5276 (N.D. Ill.) and 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 234 (N.D. Ill.)
Defense of employer in Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) lawsuit, summary judgment entered in favor of employer.

Stevenson v. Unichema North America, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10547 (N.D. Ill.)
Dismissal of lawsuit on several grounds, lawsuit brought against employer alleging Title VII and Section 1981 claims.

Messing v. InPhynet Medical Mgmt., et al., 872 F. Supp. 539 (N.D. Ill.)
Leading Illinois case on deferral of employment litigation filed in the federal courts to private arbitration pursuant to Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and individual employment contract.

Johnson v. Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO), 844 F. Supp. 466 (N.D. Ind.)
One of the first federal cases in country to find no liability for individual supervisors under Title VII.

Johnson and Wilkes v. Indopco, Inc., 834 F. Supp. 1039 (N.D. Ill.) and 846 F. Supp. 670 (N.D. Ill.)
Motion to dismiss granted in part on race discrimination and sexual harassment claims, and motion to sever granted in multi-plaintiff case.

Rose, et al. v. Consolidated Elec. Distributors, Inc., 816 F. Supp. 489 (N.D. Ill.)
Validity of employees’ motion for preliminary injunction in wage and hour cases under Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), preliminary injunction denied in action alleging wage and hour violations.

Layne v. Builders Plumbing Supply Company, Inc., 210 Ill. App. 3d 966, 569 N.E. 2d 1104 (Ill. App. 2d Dist.)
Illinois Appellate Court decision affirming dismissal of lawsuit, and establishing workplace defamation law favorable to all Illinois employers on defense of absolute privilege and doctrine of compelled self-publication.

Patton v. The University of Chicago Hospitals, 706 F. Supp. 627 (N.D. Ill.)
Motion to dismiss granted in part for employer in age discrimination action, dismissing plaintiff’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress and striking plaintiff’s request for punitive damages.

Rolark v. The University of Chicago Hospitals, 688 F. Supp. 401 (N.D. Ill.) and 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14429, 51 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1230 (N.D. Ill.)
Addressing for the first time in the Northern District of Illinois whether 180 day time period for EEOC to investigate claim is absolute jurisdictional bar, and granting summary judgment for employer in Title VII race case based on absence of genuine issue of material fact warranting trial.