Robert S. Highsmith Jr.

Partner
  • T 404.898.8012

Robert S. Highsmith Jr. practices regulatory and administrative law, public policy litigation, and government relations, representing diverse large corporate and governmental clients. He represents clients in contested matters and government affairs before myriad state and local governmental agencies in Georgia, including the Public Service Commission, Department of Community Health, Department of Insurance, Department of Revenue, the General Assembly, and the City of Atlanta. He leads Holland & Knight’s full-service Georgia Government Affairs Team, and also advocates on behalf of firm clients before Georgia’s congressional delegation.

Mr. Highsmith has extensive experience advocating client regulatory and policy interests across a wide range of substantive areas, including:

  • natural gas and energy
  • healthcare
  • government procurement 
  • transportation
  • water resources 
  • insurance
  • telecommunications
  • alcohol beverage regulation
  • federal and state appropriations

He routinely handles a wide range of matters, including:

  • administrative litigation
  • regulatory policy 
  • enforcement
  • bid protest and procurement litigation
  • taxation
  • licensing
  • legislative lobbying
  • campaign finance and election law compliance

Mr. Highsmith also has an active public policy litigation practice, with a focus on state constitutional issues, regulatory appeals, and election law.

Mr. Highsmith’s recent matters include:

  • successfully defending the innovative sales practices of a large manufacturer of electric vehicles against regulatory challenges by an association of auto dealers that involved both administrative and legislative resolution 
  • representing a large natural gas utility in multiple contested matters before the Georgia Public Service Commission
  • defending the award of a multibillion-dollar state pharmacy benefit management contract to one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit management companies
  • serving as a lead lobbyist for Georgia’s largest Medicaid managed care organization, a global telecommunications conglomerate, a large national pharmacy benefits management company, the world’s busiest airport measured by passenger traffic, and a large mass transit agency, among others

From November 2002-2004, Mr. Highsmith served as one of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s executive counsel. As Governor Perdue’s lead legislative lawyer, Mr. Highsmith drafted and lobbied for the governor’s legislative package each year. He also advised the governor on the full gamut of executive legal matters, including the state budget process, government procurement, transportation funding, water resource planning, and redistricting litigation.

Having also served as outside counsel for Georgia's governor, former governor, and several other statewide elected officials and candidates, Mr. Highsmith is among Georgia’s foremost authorities on governmental ethics, campaign finance, and election law. In February 2002, former Governor Roy Barnes appointed Mr. Highsmith to the State Ethics Commission, a quasi-judicial body with statewide jurisdiction over ethics issues involving public officials, lobbyists and state vendors.

Mr. Highsmith formerly served as assistant general counsel to the Georgia Republican Party, chief of staff to the Republican Caucus of the Georgia House of Representatives, and policy director to the 1998 Republican nominee for governor of Georgia.

At the University of Georgia, Mr. Highsmith's mock trial team won national first runner-up honors in the National Institute of Trial Advocacy’s Tournament of Champions.

Reported Cases

  • Highwoods Properties, Inc. v. City of Chamblee, 329 Ga. App. 346, 765 S.E.2d 33 (2014)
  • Bithoney v. Fulton-DeKalb Hosp. Authority, 313 Ga. App. 335, 721 S.E.2d 577 (2011)
  • Moore ex rel. Moore v. Reese, 637 F.3d 1220 (11th Cir. 2011)
  • Dozier v. Baker, 283 Ga. 543, 661 S.E.2d 543 (2008)
  • McCreary v. Martin, 281 Ga. 668, 642 S.E.2d 80 (2007)
  • Brodie v. Champion, 281 Ga. 105, 636 S.E.2d 511 (2006)
  • Associated General Contractors of America, Central Ohio Div. v. City of Columbus, 147 F. Supp. 2d 864 (S.D. Ohio 2001)

Honors & Awards

  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Atlanta Government Relations Lawyer of the Year, 2016
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Government Relations Practice, 2008-2016
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated

Memberships

  • Governor's Judicial Nominating Commission, consisting of judges and lawyers who recommend judicial appointments statewide to the Governor, 2006-Present
  • Georgia Code Revision Commission (publisher of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated), 2012-Present
  • Federalist Society, Executive Board, Atlanta Lawyers Division
  • Logan E. Bleckley Inn of Court, former Barrister
  • Joseph Henry Lumpkin Inn of Court, former Barrister
  • Republican National Lawyers Association
  • Energy Bar Association
  • Lawyers Club of Atlanta
  • State Bar of Georgia