Robert S Highsmith Jr.

Partner
  • T 404.898.8012

Robert S. Highsmith Jr. practices regulatory and administrative law, public policy litigation, government contracting, and government relations. He represents diverse large corporate and governmental clients in contested matters, large transactions, and government affairs before myriad Georgia state and local governmental agencies, including the Public Service Commission, Department of Community Health, Department of Insurance, Department of Revenue, the General Assembly, and the City of Atlanta. He also advocates before Georgia's congressional delegation and the Trump Administration.

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:

  • representing a large natural gas utility in multiple contested matters before the Georgia Public Service Commission
  • leading negotiations on behalf of a major Atlanta sports franchise for the renovation of the team's home arena
  • leading the legal team negotiating with the State of Georgia on behalf of a Class 1 railroad for the lease of a major state-owned rail line
  • defending the awards of several multibillion-dollar Medicaid managed care contracts to one of the nation's largest providers of government-sponsored health care programs
  • 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
  • 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 outside General Counsel to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) since February of 2016
  • serving as a lead lobbyist for Georgia's largest Medicaid managed care organization, two global telecommunications conglomerates, a large national pharmacy benefits management company, the world's busiest airport measured by passenger traffic, and a large mass transit agency, among others

Mr. Highsmith served as an executive counsel to Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump's Secretary of Agriculture, when Perdue was Georgia's Governor. As Perdue's lead legislative lawyer, Mr. Highsmith drafted and lobbied for Perdue's legislative package each year. He also advised Perdue on the full gamut of executive legal matters, including the state budget process, government procurement, transportation funding, water resource planning, and redistricting litigation. Mr. Highsmith serves on Governor Nathan Deal's Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), which recommends judicial appointments statewide to the Governor. He is the only Commission member to have also served on former Governor Sonny Perdue's JNC.

Having also served as outside counsel for Georgia's governor, former governor, several other statewide elected officials, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Mr. Highsmith is among Georgia's foremost authorities on governmental ethics, campaign finance, and election law. Mr. Highsmith formerly served on the State Ethics Commission, a quasi-judicial body with statewide jurisdiction over ethics issues involving public officials, lobbyists, and state vendors, as an appointee of former Governor Roy Barnes.

Mr. Highsmith has 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.

In the fall of 2012, Mr. Highsmith was appointed a Lecturer in Yale College, traveling there weekly to teach “Lobbying and the Law,” a for-credit undergraduate seminar he designed.

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, 2018 
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Government Relations Practice, 2008-2018
  • The Legal 500 USA, Government - Government Relations, 2016, 2017
  • Client Service All-Star, The BTI Consulting Group, Inc., 2017
  • 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), 2012-2014
  • Federalist Society, Executive Board, Atlanta Lawyers Division
  • Joseph Henry Lumpkin Inn of Court, Master
  • Logan E. Bleckley Inn of Court, former Barrister
  • Republican National Lawyers Association
  • Energy Bar Association
  • Lawyers Club of Atlanta
  • State Bar of Georgia