Campus News

UGA law school professor named inaugural holder of Smith Professorship

Peter Appel

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia School of Law Professor Peter A. Appel has been appointed the inaugural holder of the Alex W. Smith Professorship in Law, which was established in memory of Alexander Wyly Smith III, a well-known Atlanta attorney, civic leader and philanthropist who died in 2008.

Supported by gifts from the John and Mary Franklin Foundation of Atlanta and the law firm Smith, Gambrell & Russell, this professorship was created to recognize Smith’s long service on the foundation’s board and his service to the firm, its clients and the community.

Georgia Law Dean Rebecca Hanner White said she was pleased to announce Appel’s appointment to the Smith Professorship. “Professor Appel has an excellent reputation in his fields of property, natural resources and environmental law. I am delighted to be able to recognize his commitment to scholarship and teaching with this appointment.”

Appel joined Georgia Law in 1997. His research focuses on the use of law to promote sustainable commerce, wilderness preservation and the courts, and more traditional doctrinal scholarship in environmental and natural resources law. His work has appeared in such publications as the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, the Southern Illinois University Law Journal and the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review.

Additionally, Appel has served as an instructor to senior members of federal agencies. He has been invited to train federal wilderness managers at the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center and has taught environmental law and regulation to employees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Prior to entering academia, Appel worked for six years as an attorney with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He has also clerked for Chief Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Appel earned his bachelor’s degree cum laude and his Juris Doctor from Yale University, where he served on the notes editing committee of the Yale Law Journal and was a member of the Yale Law and Policy Review.

A Georgia native, Smith studied at the College of the Holy Cross before volunteering for service in the U.S. Army Air Force. After World War II, he continued his studies at Oxford University and UGA, earning both his bachelor’s degree and his law degree from the university.

Smith was the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of his character and service, including Georgia Law’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Scroll Award. Additionally, Smith was named a Knight of St. Gregory by Pope John Paul II for his service to the Catholic Church in 2003. He and his wife of 63 years, Betty, established the Alex & Betty Smith Scholarship at Georgia Law, which financially supports students attending the law school.

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