dating back to their entry into the practice
area in the 1980s, when New Jersey’s liberal-
leaning courts helped fuel a groundswell of
suits involving discrimination based on age,
race, gender, sexual orientation or disabilities.
Smith, the youngest of three children
and the only girl, grew up happy in Keyport.
From the beginning, she liked people.
And they liked her back. In eighth grade,
she was elected president of the student
council. In high school, she was captain of
the cheerleading team.
Her father, Jack Smith, was a vivacious
Irishman, a bartender who opened a liquor
store. He died when Smith was 15. Her
mother, Madeline Parry, was deeply religious,
determined and had a bright personality.
“My mom had an eighth-grade
education and she ran that liquor store,”
Smith considers herself blessed.
That is due, in part, to getting a quality,
affordable education at state schools.
Smith wasn’t born with a silver spoon.
She polished them as a waitress, earning
enough money to pay tuition and keep a
roof over her head.
“I am a product of government, of
everyone pulling together to lift people
up,” she says.
Smith earned her social work degree at
Montclair State University, and applied to
Rutgers School of Law in Newark at the
urging of a classmate.
“We were the lefties in class,” she
recalls. “He said, ‘If you want to change the
world, become a lawyer.’”
Smith was just 25 and eight months
pregnant when she got her first big
Slohoda v. United Parcel Service
Her client, Jon Slohoda, was a married
UPS employee who was fired for
cohabitating with a co-worker who was
not his wife. Smith threw a punch no one
expected—she argued that Slohoda was
discriminated against on the basis of
his marital status. If he wasn’t married,
she maintained, he could not have been
terminated for adultery.
Smith lost in summary judgment, but won
a plea for a retrial. “We tried it and the judge
in this issue
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