Partner   •   J. Craig Smith

J. Craig Smith, Partner


Craig Smith has more than three decades of experience as an attorney, in which he has successfully handled a number of complex water disputes, land use dispute, takings claims, and other issues. He has argued over 30 appeals to the Utah Supreme Court. Mr. Smith has represented public and private parties in takings claims arising from land use decisions, represented numerous water users in successful settlement of instream flow claims on the San Rafael River, and won appeals for municipalities and water entities before the Utah and New Mexico Supreme Courts. His most notable projects include securing the water rights for Duchesne City through an act of Congress, successfully entitling and securing water rights for a multimillion-dollar resort in Kane County, and creating the first municipal natural gas utility in Utah.

Practice Areas

  • Water Law & Litigation
  • Land Use Law & Litigation
  • Redevelopment Law
  • Eminent Domain & Takings

Professional Memberships

Admitted to the following:

  • 1983 - Utah State Bar
  • 1989 - U.S. Claims Court
  • 1990 - District of Columbia
  • 2000 - United States Supreme Court
  • 2002 - District of Columbia Circuit
  • 2014 - Wyoming State Bar
  • Tenth Circuit Court
  • American Bar Association
  • Utah Municipal Attorneys Association

Awards and Distinctions

  • 2016 - Included in list of “Best Lawyers" in the field of Natural Resources Law by The Best Lawyers in America publication.
  • 2011-2015 - Included in list of “Super Lawyers” in Energy and Natural Resource Law by Mountain State Super Lawyers Magazine
  • 2004-Present - Utah Business Magazine, Utah Legal Elite.
  • 2004 - Lawyer of the Year, Utah State Bar, Energy, Natural Resources & Environmental Law
  • 2000 - Chair, Utah State Bar, Energy, Natural Resources & Environmental Law
  • AV Rating, Martindale Hubbell


  • "Local Government Regulation and Bankruptcy: To Stay or Not to Stay," Urban Lawyer 151-176, Vol. 21, No. 1, Winter, 1989
  • "Bankruptcy and Development Regulations," Urban Land, April 1991
  • "Ethics and the Government Lawyer," Utah Bar Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2, February 1993
  • "Basic Utah Water Law," Utah Bar Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2, February 1994
  • “A Preference For Domestic Water Use in Utah: A Relic of the Past?” Water Resources Committee Newsletter, ABA, Section of Environment, Energy Aid Resources, Vol. 12, No. 1. November 2009
  • "This Land Is Your Land ... But What About My Water? Applying an Exaction Analysis to Water Dedication Requirements for Facilities on Federal Land" Wyoming Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2014


  • Juris Doctorate, cum laude, Brigham Young University, 1983
  • Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, Brigham Young University, 1980
  • Associates Degree, College of Eastern Utah, with high honors, 1978