Pioneering UF Law graduate to be inducted posthumously into society
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida law graduate W. Reece Smith Jr., who rose to a succession of leadership positions in the legal profession never before or since equaled, will be inducted posthumously Friday into the Heritage of Leadership Society. The ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Levin College of Law in Holland 180.
The event is closed to the public, but media are invited to cover the ceremony.
At the event, co-workers, friends and family will speak in Smith’s honor and dedicate a glass etching bearing his image and a list of his most significant accomplishments. The etching will be displayed on the second floor of Holland Hall on the law school campus as a permanent tribute to his contributions to the nation, the state and the university.
Smith, who graduated from UF Law in 1949, served as president of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, The Florida Bar, the American Bar Association and the International Bar Association. No other person has reached the top of all levels of professional leadership. He served for six decades as an attorney with the law firm now called Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, holding positions as its president and chairman during his career at the firm. Smith also established the ABA Pro Bono Center and nonprofit Florida Legal Services Inc. His work with legal service nonprofits around the country helped him earn the American Bar Association Medal of Honor.
He also led a colorful life. Smith played starting quarterback for the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first Gator Bowl in 1946, and in 1952 he was Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He also served overseas with the Navy and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Smith joins 34 others in the Heritage of Leadership Recognition Society. Inductees represent illustrious personalities in the history of the University of Florida College of Law since its founding in 1909. They assumed national leadership positions and distinguished themselves in legal, governmental, academic and corporate sectors. They labored to improve the administration of justice and received the highest commendations for contributions to the profession and service to education, civic, charitable and cultural causes.