Robert S. Highsmith Jr. practices legislative, administrative and regulatory law, government relations and litigation, representing diverse large corporate and governmental clients. Mr. Highsmith leads the firm’s State Capitals Team and Georgia Government Relations Practice, and is the executive partner of the firm's Atlanta office. He represents clients before the Georgia General Assembly and before myriad state and local government agencies. He also engages with the firm's federal lobbying practice where firm client interests require advocacy before Georgia's congressional delegation.
Mr. Highsmith has extensive experience advocating on behalf of client legislative, regulatory and policy interests across a wide range of substantive areas, including:
- federal and state appropriations
- water resources
- alcohol beverage regulation
- financial services
He routinely handles a wide range of matters, including:
- legislative lobbying
- product approvals
- regulatory policy
Mr. Highsmith also has an active public policy litigation practice, with a focus on state constitutional issues, regulatory appeals and election law.
From November 2002-04, 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 resource planning and redistricting litigation.
Having served as counsel for Georgia's governor, former governor and several other statewide elected officials and candidates, Mr. Highsmith is among Georgia’s foremost experts on campaign finance, governmental ethics and election law. In February 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.
Mr. Highsmith formerly served as assistant general counsel to the Georgia Republican Party and served as chief of staff to the Republican Caucus of the Georgia House of Representatives. Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Highsmith served as director of policy and research to the 1998 Republican nominee for governor of Georgia.
At the University of Georgia, Mr. Highsmith's team won national first runner-up honors in the National Institute of Trial Advocacy’s Tournament of Champions.