Mary Leslie Smith



Leslie Smith is a partner with Foley & Lardner LLP. Ms. Smith litigates a range of commercial matters at both the trial and appellate levels in both federal and state courts. Her franchising and distribution practice provides clients with counseling and litigation services, from initial negotiations through resolution, including mediation, arbitration and trial. Ms. Smith has represented franchisors and distributors in a variety of commercial disputes involving trademarks, trade secrets, covenants not to compete and vicarious liability claims. She is the managing partner of the Miami office and a member of the Distribution & Franchise Practice.

Representative Experience

  • Obtaining a favorable verdict for a hospitality franchisor client on its counterclaim for breach of a franchise agreement preceded by the entry of summary judgment in favor of the franchisor, its parent company and two former employees on the franchisee's complaint alleging RICO violations. The counterclaim was tried non-jury after the court granted our clients' motion to strike jury demand
  • Obtaining a summary judgment on a franchisor's claims for post termination trademark infringement and counterfeiting against its former franchisee
  • Obtaining injunctive relief on a distributor’s claims against a former employee for misappropriation of trade secrets and violations of a covenant not to compete
  • Successfully defending a franchisor client from a competitor's motion for injunctive relief arising out of claims of false advertising
  • Obtaining a summary judgment for a franchisor in a wrongful death action involving Florida's Dram Shop law
  • Obtaining a preliminary injunction against a former employee of a logistics client for violation of the employee's covenant not to compete who claimed the covenant to be unenforceable on the grounds of workplace harassment
  • Winning preliminary injunctions on behalf of many franchisor clients to prevent former franchisee's unauthorized use of the franchisor's registered trademarks


Ms. Smith was named to BTI Consulting Group’s coveted Client Service All Star Team in 2017. This honor is bestowed upon individual attorneys who deliver outstanding client service according to corporate counsel interviewed at large organizations with $1 billion or more in revenue. Ms. Smith has been Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system. Well-known for her in-depth knowledge of the issues, Ms. Smith has been recognized in the trade press, most recently by her peers as one of Franchise Times Legal Eagles 2013  2014, and the 2009  2013 and 2016 2017 editions of The International Who’s Who of Franchise Lawyers. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business also recognized her as one of the top franchise attorneys nationwide (2010  2017) and she was selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© since 2013. In addition, Ms. Smith was selected for inclusion in the 2014  2017 Florida Super Lawyers® lists, and the South Florida Legal Guide named her a Top Lawyer - Franchise in the 2015 - 2018 editions.


Ms. Smith earned her J.D., with honors (1988), from the University of Florida, an M.A. (1981) from the London School of Economics, and a B.A., cum laude (1979), from Southern Methodist University.

Admissions and Professional Memberships

She is admitted to practice in Florida, the U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Ms. Smith's memberships include the Forum on Franchising, American Bar Association, past Governing Committee member; International Franchise Association; Board of Governors Young Lawyers Division Executive Committee, past member; the Florida State Bar Association, Women Presidents' Organization member, and 100+ Women Who Care member. Ms. Smith is the past-president of the Dade County Bar Association. 

Selected Publications

Ms. Smith is the co-author of Annual Franchise and Distribution Law Developments 2004 published by the American Bar Association.

Representative Matters

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Defended a national tax preparation service in consumer class actions filed in Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, Florida, California, and Arkansas alleging various consumer claims on behalf of putative classes in approximately 40 states.
Represented a payroll services company in a False Claims Act case in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. Supreme Court proceedings. Handled the oral argument before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The court affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida’s dismissal of a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging that the client should return to the U.S. Treasury hundreds of millions of dollars in interest it earned on funds collected for taxes. Foley also represented this client in the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully opposing the relators’ petition for a writ of certiorari.
Represented Winmark Corporation in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in litigation adverse to Wanda James, dba Once Upon a Child, to enforce a settlement agreement previously entered into by the parties. Ms. James, in violation of her prior settlement agreement, continued to use Winmark's registered "Once Upon A Time"® marks in violation of the Lanham Act. Winmark was successful in obtaining a sanctions order against Ms. James and an order restraining her use of the Winmark registered marks.