Jenner & Block

Former Acting General Counsel for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Damon Y. Smith Joins Jenner & Block

Jenner & Block is pleased to announce that Damon Y. Smith, former acting general counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has joined the firm as a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.  As a member of the firm’s Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation and Real Estate Practices, he brings a unique blend of experience that covers housing, banking and consumer regulation at the intersection of law and policy. 

“The firm has well-regarded Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation and Real Estate Practices,” said Jenner & Block Managing Partner Terrence J. Truax.  “Damon’s extensive experience in government regulation, real estate transactions and complex litigation will further strengthen our capabilities in these areas.”

Mr. Smith’s government practice will leverage his extensive knowledge of housing and consumer regulations impacting the current housing finance environment; experience with leadership at the highest levels of the primary regulators in the field; and background in resolving controversies with the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and private parties. His real estate practice will focus on multifamily housing finance and commercial transactions.  

Thomas J. Perrelli, chair of the firm’s Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation Practice, added, “Damon’s government service and knowledge of relevant housing and consumer regulations will be extremely beneficial to our clients.  He offers unique insight into industry changes that have occurred over the past several years, both in the market and in government regulation. ”

Mr. Smith worked five years at HUD and served as the department’s acting general counsel from January 2014 to July 2014.  In the general counsel role, he set and implemented HUD’s litigation strategy, and led the reformation efforts for its multifamily loan closing documents as well as the negotiations to resolve mortgage-related litigation in the primary and secondary mortgage markets. 

“Damon’s experience at HUD and background representing commercial developers and tenants in negotiations with lenders and landlords complements our existing practice. In addition to enhancing the service of our existing clients, he will help expand our practice footprint in the Washington, D.C. region,” said Donald I. Resnick, chair of the firm’s Real Estate Practice.

“Jenner & Block is highly regarded as one of the top law firms in the nation with great Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation and Real Estate Practices and a tremendous commitment to public service,” said Mr.Smith. “I am excited to join the firm and continue its legacy of excellence as a litigation powerhouse and transactional leader.”

Mr. Smith held several positions at HUD between June 2009 and January 2014, serving as HUD’s principal deputy general counsel, acting associate general counsel for insured housing and senior counsel/special assistant to the general counsel.  Before HUD, he was a professor of property and local government law at Rutgers University.  As a professor, he provided a lecture on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo v. New London eminent domain decision as part of a seminar series for the New Jersey State Legislature.  Before his teaching career, he was an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Arnold & Porter LLP, an international law firm.  Prior to law school, he was the founding director of the University of Illinois’s Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center in East St. Louis, Illinois.

Mr. Smith received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his B.A. in English and Master of Urban Planning (M.U.P.) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Maryland.