David Smellie


David is 'a fantastic all-rounder, a real Rolls-Royce of an employment lawyer with a great bedside manner'.

Chambers & Partners

David is Head of the Employment Team and the Schools Group. He has wide experience of advising commercial and institutional clients including newspapers, magazines, banks and academic establishments.  David advises on restructuring and redundancy programmes and on the complexities of the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, as well as handling industrial disputes, team moves and individual cases. 

He is a regular author of Croner's publications and writes chapters for both Butterworths Commercial and Tolley's Personnel precedents. David was runner-up in the Employment Lawyer of the Year award sponsored by the Insiders Guide to Employment Lawyers and is given a four star rating in the same guide.  He is rated as a leading expert in the field by both Chambers and Legal 500.

What the directories say:

"an absolutely first-class lawyer" who is "excellent with clients and very hands-on and practical" - Chambers UK

"unparalleled knowledge of the education sector" - Chambers UK

"very in tune with all of the topical issues" - Chambers UK

"Department head David Smellie ‘brings a wealth of experience, know-how, integrity and sheer charm to all his cases and clients'." - Legal 500

Who we help

David heads the Farrer & Co Schools Group and is widely acknowledged as one of the leading schools lawyer in the country. He specialises in child protection, pupil disciplinary matters, SENDA and schools related employment issues for a stellar client base that includes many of the UK’s best-known schools.

Go to Schools

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David Smellie

Contact details

Tel:  +44 (0)20 3375 7000
Fax: +44 (0)20 7404 5127

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  • Legal 500, 2015
  • Chambers UK, 2016


Trained at Farrer & Co; qualified in 1989; made a partner 1996.


St John’s College, Cambridge (MA).