John M. Smith, Esq

Member, Partner, Co-Founder of Smith Butz

John M. Smith,  Esq.



Mr. Smith is a member, partner and co-founder of the law firm of Smith Butz, LLC in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He focuses his practice in the areas of Commercial Litigation, Construction Litigation, Zoning and Land Use Law, Municipal Law matters, Energy Law, Estate Planning and Estate Administration. Mr. Smith handles Estate Planning for his clients drafting Wills, Trusts and Powers of Attorney as well as administering the Estate following the death of a loved one. He also is actively involved in estate litigation matters. He is at the forefront of Gas Lease Negotiations, Local Zoning regulations on drilling and the Litigation of Ownership of oil and gas rights. He has tried hundreds of cases representing individuals, businesses and municipalities in various courts and jurisdictions throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He counsels municipalities and is often appointed as Special Counsel to consult on matters relating to Oil and Gas Law litigation issues. Mr. Smith was the lead attorney who successfully argued twice before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on behalf of Pennsylvania local municipalities in the landmark case Robinson Township vs. Commonwealth. As a result, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found several provisions of Act 13, the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act of 2012, unconstitutional, returning zoning rights back to the people’s respective local governments. More recently, Mr. Smith received a favorable decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in EQT Production Company v. Borough of Jefferson Hills in 2019, authorizing the testimony of citizens of past practices and experiences at fracking sites to be used as evidence in hearings on new fracking site requests. Mr. Smith also received a favorable en banc ruling from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in South Fayette Township et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, striking down PennDOT’s attempt to toll nine bridges in the Commonwealth, including the I-79 Bridge effecting Bridgeville, Collier and South Fayette Townships. 

Mr. Smith’s article, “The Prodigal Son Returns: Oil and Gas Drillers Return to Pennsylvania with a Vengeance. Are Municipalities Prepared?” was published in the Duquesne Law Review at Volume 49, Number 1, 2011. Mr. Smith has spoken on oil and gas issues at various venues including: the National Association of Royalty Owner (NARO) conventions, Yale Law School on Local Government Regulation of Fracking, the Society of Environmental Journalists Shale Oil and Gas Development at Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University’s, Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law on “Forensics of Fracking: The Science and Law of Hydraulic Gas Extraction”; the American Bar Association on the topics: “To Frack or Not to Frack: Who Decides? State and Local Approaches to Regulating Fracking”, and “Zoning, Fracking, Public Health and the Law,” in addition to speaking at numerous municipal events, Bar functions and CLE’s on oil and gas matters. Mr. Smith presented on behalf of the Pennsylvania Local Government Academy and the Shale Institute at Washington and Jefferson College on “Managing Marcellus: Land Use, Zoning and Addressing the Impacts of Shale Gas Drilling After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Act 13 Rulings.” Mr. Smith was a featured speaker before the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) Natural Gas Task Force meeting on fracking issues and government obligations. Mr. Smith presented at the PBI Oil and Gas Law Colloquium in Pittsburgh and at the 16th Annual Energy Food and Water Conference held in Washington D.C. In February 2016, Mr. Smith once again spoke at Yale Law School on oil and gas issues and the role of local governments.

More recently, Attorney Smith has spoken on various oil and gas and municipal issues including on behalf of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) in 2019 regarding the need for subdivision and land development approvals for oil and gas operators. He authored an article with publication in the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Journal titled “From Leasing to Litigation: How Pennsylvania’s Lessor’s Perspective is Formed by a Historical Backdrop and a Patchwork of Uncertainty Going Forward.” He presented his paper in the Summer 2019 in Monterey, California before the 65th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute conference.  Attorney Smith’s past arguments and comments were featured in a January 5, 2020 CNBC televised segment titled “Should The U.S. Ban Fracking?” Attorney Smith also co-presented a Professors’ Corner webinar for American Bar Association titled “Holds on Horizontal Drilling Under Mineral Easements: Disparate Views Among the States” in March 2020. Following that presentation, he co-authored an article on fracking trespass issues published in the September/October 2020 issue of the American Bar Association’s Probate and Property Magazine titled “Capture or Convert.”  Mr. Smith and his partner Kendra Smith were prominently featured in the Pulitzer Prize winning book “Amity and Prosperity:  One Family and the Fracturing of America”, and his efforts in representing a Municipal Authority’s desire to stop accepting and treating fracking waste was addressed in the March 2, 2021 New Yorker article “When the Kids Started Getting Sick”.

Mr. Smith was admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 1995. He is licensed to practice law in all Pennsylvania and New Jersey state courts, the United States District Courts for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Middle District of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He is a member of the Washington County Bar Association, the Allegheny County Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the New Jersey State Bar Association. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Rhetoric and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991 and his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1995. While in law school, he was a member of the Law Review, Chair of the Moot Court Board, and graduated in the top five percent of his class. He also received the “Distinguished Student Award” for his graduating class. Mr. Smith is active in his community providing many pro bono services. He is the founder of his township’s Historical Society and has taught Mock Trial to area high school students for many years. Mr. Smith currently serves as the Solicitor for Peters Township, East Finley Township, and Special Counsel for South Fayette Township and North Strabane Township, and serves as the Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor for Canton Township.

Attorney Smith lives in Cecil, PA with his wife, Kendra, and their three children. Attorney John M. Smith is available to provide legal assistance in all of the areas mentioned above, and he can be reached via telephone at (724) 745-5121 or email at

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