James D. Smeallie is a partner and trial attorney in the Boston office of Holland & Knight, concentrating his practice on business litigation with particular emphasis on litigation involving education, employment, professional liability, intellectual property (IP) and unfair competition. Among other businesses, Mr. Smeallie has represented manufacturers of athletic equipment, national insurance brokers, gig economy companies, and colleges and universities in a variety of litigation matters. Mr. Smeallie also serves as co-chair of Holland & Knight's Sports Industry Team.

Mr. Smeallie has served in firm leadership positions as executive partner of the Boston office, chair of the Education Team, member of the Directors Committee and current member of the firmwide Practice and Operations Committee.

In 2012-2013, Mr. Smeallie served as the president of the Boston Bar Association (BBA), where he led a task force that produced "Investing in Justice: A Roadmap to Cost-Effective Funding of Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts." The report has received national attention for its efforts to increase funding for civil legal aid for the poor. He currently serves as a commissioner on the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, where he serves on the Revenue Enhancement Committee which seeks to find additional funding for civil legal aid. For his work in the area of civil legal aid, Mr. Smeallie received the Equal Justice Coalition's Beacon of Justice Award in 2019.

Representative Engagements

  • Yilkal Bekele v. Lyft Inc., U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, C.A. 1:15 cv 11650 FDS: Lead counsel in the defense of a putative class action brought by Lyft drivers alleging misclassification as independent contractors. Successfully argued motion to dismiss and to compel individual arbitration.
  • Atlantic Coast Conference v. University of Maryland, College Park, et al, Guilford County North Carolina Superior Court, C.A. No. 12 CVS 10736; Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland, et al v. Atlantic Coast Conference, Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland, Case No. CAL13-02189: Co-counsel for the Atlantic Coast Conference in lawsuits in North Carolina and Maryland arising from Maryland's refusal to pay the $52 million withdrawal payment required by the Atlantic Coast Conference's Constitution upon Maryland's move to the Big Ten Conference. Successfully argued a motion to dismiss the action in Maryland and obtained a favorable settlement of the North Carolina action through mediation.
  • United States of America, ex rel. James Banigan and Richard Templin, et al v. Organon USA Inc., et al, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, C.A. No. 07-12153-RWZ: Lead counsel for PharMerica, a national long-term care pharmacy, in defense of federal anti-kickback claims alleged to be in excess of $1 billion arising from the defendants' alleged unlawful promotion of a drug. Successfully argued a motion to dismiss all claims against PharMerica.
  • Daniele International Inc. v. USI Insurance Services of Rhode Island Inc., et al., Providence Superior Court, C.A. No. PC-11-47110: Lead counsel in the defense of a $50-million professional errors and omissions claim by a specialty meat manufacturer against a national insurance broker arising from the alleged failure to obtain insurance that would have covered the meat manufacturer for losses sustained as a result of a nationwide product recall. After three years of litigation, the action was successfully resolved through mediation.
  • Hearst Stations Inc. d/b/a WCVB-TV v. Aereo Inc., U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, C.A. No. 13-11649-NMG: Lead counsel for Hearst and WCVB in a copyright infringement action against Aereo for intercepting WCVB's television signals and retransmitting them over the internet without compensating WCVB. After the WCVB action was stayed, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Aereo's business model infringed broadcasters' copyrights.

Representative Experience


  • University of Virginia School of Law, J.D.
  • Yale College, B.A., cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Massachusetts
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, Commissioner, 2019-2022
  • Boston Bar Foundation, Fellow; Trustee, 2011-2017; Member, Grants Committee, 2016-2022
  • Massachusetts Equal Justice Fund, Trustee, 2018-2019
  • Boston Bar Association, President, 2012-2013, President-Elect, 2011-2012, Vice President, 2010-2011, Secretary, 2008-2009
  • American Bar Association, Fellow; Commissioner, ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, 2005-2008
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys
Honors & Awards
  • Stand-out Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, 2024
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Education Law, 2007-2024; Commercial Litigation, 2008-2024
  • Massachusetts Super Lawyers magazine, 2004-2023
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2021
  • Client Service All-Star, The BTI Consulting Group, Inc., 2020
  • Equal Justice Coalition Beacon of Justice Award, 2019
  • Holland & Knight Public and Charitable Service All-Star, 2014
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated


Speaking Engagements