Colleen C. Smith

  • Partner
  • 12670 High Bluff Drive
  • San Diego, CA 92130
  • USA
  • T +1.858.523.3985


Colleen Smith is a member of the Securities Litigation & Professional Liability Practice, representing public companies and corporate officers and directors in securities class actions, shareholder derivative litigation, mergers and acquisitions litigation, SEC investigations, internal investigations and other complex, high-stakes litigation.

Ms. Smith is experienced in all aspects of complex litigation, including major motion practice, fact and expert discovery, trial and appeals. In recent years, she led a six-week jury trial in federal court involving claims totaling nearly US$200 million which the jury returned a unanimous verdict for her client. Ms. Smith has successfully briefed and argued appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and in the California Courts of Appeals.

Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Smith served as a law clerk to David R. Thompson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and to James H. Michael of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. Prior to law school, Ms. Smith served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy.

Ms. Smith is on the Business Development Committee for the San Diego office and oversees the Securities Litigation Practice Mentor Program.

Speaking Engagements
  • “Corporate Law and Governance Developments,”RR Donnelley SEC Hot Topics Institute, September 2016
  • “Updates in Delaware Corporate Law,” ACC M&A Roundtable Seminar, 2016
  • “Strategy and Risk Forum,” National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), 2015
  • “Ethical and Legal Issues in M&A Transactions,” ACC M&A Roundtable Seminar, 2014
  • “Ethical Considerations Every In-House Lawyer Needs to Know,” Latham MCLE Seminar, 2014
  • “Disclosure and Discovery in the Southern District: Deposition Practice,” Federal Bar Association San Diego, 2013


Ms. Smith’s recent experience includes representing:

  • Excel Trust in the shareholder lawsuits following the company’s US$2 billion sale to Blackstone Group.   
  • BioMed Realty Trust in the shareholder lawsuits following the company’s US$8 billion sale to Blackstone Group. Ms. Smith also previously represented BioMed in derivative litigation, resulting in a successful dismissal of all claims.
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in federal securities class action litigation.   
  • Puma Biotechnology, Inc. in a securities class action and shareholder derivative lawsuit.   
  • An enterprise-class technology company in a Section 10(b) securities class action, derivative litigation and SEC enforcement action against its CEO related to alleged disclosure violations and insider trading after earnings announcements. Ms. Smith and the Latham team obtained a unanimous defense verdict following a three-week jury trial, in one of the Daily Journal’s “Top Verdicts” of 2014.
  • Allergan, Inc. in claims against Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Pershing Square arising from Valeant’s attempted hostile takeover of Allergan. Obtained a partial preliminary injunction that was instrumental in defeating the takeover bid.
  • Alphatec Holdings in a federal securities class action and shareholder derivative litigation arising from a corporate acquisition. Secured dismissal of all securities class action claims in what the Daily Journal named a “Top Defense Verdict” of 2013, and prevailed on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.   
  • The Argen Corporation in class action litigation, obtaining successful dismissal of all claims.
  • Ligand Pharmaceuticals in a securities class action and derivative action arising from its acquisition of a development license. Secured dismissal of all claims with prejudice.
  • K12 in multiple securities class actions involving alleged misstatements regarding academic performance and recruiting practices. Secured voluntary dismissal of all academic performance claims and favorable settlement of remaining claims. Secured dismissal of second class action lawsuit.
  • A Swiss-based multinational oilfield service and technology company in securities fraud class actions and derivative actions related to the restatement of the company’s financial statements due to tax accounting errors.
  • The City of San Diego in mass action involving estimated damages of US$200 million. Led a six-week jury trial and obtained a unanimous verdict in the City’s favor.

Thought Leadership

  • Revisiting Affiliated Ute: Back in Vogue in the 9th Circ. -  May 23, 2017
  • Not So Basic: Supreme Court to Revisit the Fraud-on-the Market Presumption of Relian -  November 27, 2013
  • Defending the Latest Wave of Proxy Litigation: Say-on-Pay and Equity Plan Shareholder Class Action Injunction Lawsuits -  January 30, 2013
  • The Working World, Issue 15, May 2012 -  May 10, 2012
  • The Future of Say-on-Pay Derivative Litigation -  April 11, 2012
  • Early Feedback on the Viability of “Say-on-Pay” Derivative Litigation: Two Courts Are Divided -  November 7, 2011
  • How the Supreme Court’s Opinion in Halliburton May Affect Class Certification Strategies in Securities Class Actions -  July 18, 2011
  • Supreme Court Reverses Fifth Circuit by Ruling That Securities Fraud Plaintiffs Need Not Prove Loss Causation to Obtain Class Certification -  June 14, 2011
  • Disclosure Standard for Security Fraud Claims Muddled With Uncertainty -  March 31, 2011
  • Schleicher v. Wendt and the Future of the Fraud on the Market Doctrine -  October 25, 2010
  • “Fraud Created the Market” Theory of Reliance Loses Traction -  October 8, 2010
  • 9th Circuit Denies Compensation for Dressing at Work -  April 1, 2010
  • Appellate Attorneys: Why Hire Them and How to Choose Them -  December 30, 2009
  • Department of Labor Offers New Guidance on Whether Employee Training is Compensable "Work" Under the Fair Labor Standards Act -  April 27, 2009
“California Lawyers of the Year” (CLAY) award for a pro bono project helping eligible military veterans apply for immigration statusDaily Journal, 2017
Bar Qualification
  • California
  • JD, University of Virginia School of Law, 2003
    Order of the Coif; Editorial Board, Virginia Law Review
  • BSFS, Georgetown University, 1996
  • Securities Litigation & Professional Liability
  • Litigation & Trial Practice
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Activism
  • Complex Commercial Litigation
  • Supreme Court & Appellate
  • Corporate Governance