Robert S. Highsmith Jr. practices legislative, administrative, and regulatory law, government relations, and litigation. He serves as national Team Leader for the firm’s State Capitals Team, and leads the firm’s Georgia government relations practice. He represents clients before the Georgia General Assembly and before state and local government agencies, with a particular focus on the Department of Insurance and the Department of Community Health. He also has extensive experience in public policy litigation, representing both governmental entities and private parties.
From November 2002 until November 2004, Mr. Highsmith served in the administration of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, first as Transition Counsel, and then as Deputy 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 planning, and redistricting litigation.
Having served as counsel for numerous Republican candidates and office holders, Mr. Highsmith is among Georgia’s foremost experts on campaign and ethics law. In February of 2002, former Governor Roy Barnes appointed Mr. Highsmith to a four-year term on the State Ethics Commission, a quasi-judicial body with statewide jurisdiction over ethical issues involving public officials, lobbyists, and state vendors. The following year, Governor Perdue named him Deputy Executive Counsel.
Mr. Highsmith formerly served as Assistant General Counsel to the Georgia Republican Party, and also formerly served as Chief of Staff to the Republican Caucus of the Georgia House of Representatives. Prior to joining Holland & Knight LLP, Mr. Highsmith served as Director of Policy and Research to the 1998 Republican nominee for Governor of Georgia.
Mr. Highsmith is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, the American Bar Association, the Atlanta Bar Association, and the Lawyers Club of Atlanta. He is a former Barrister in the Logan E. Bleckley Inn of Court, and is currently a Barrister in the Joseph Henry Lumpkin Inn of Court. He is admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia, and all courts of the State of Georgia.
Mr. Highsmith graduated from Yale University in 1995 and from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1997, where his team won National First Runner-up honors in the National Institute of Trial Advocacy’s Tournament of Champions. He has served as an editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.