Our People


E. Thomas McCarthy, Jr. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a seasoned trial lawyer with a well-earned reputation  for achieving justice for his clients. Tom joined Smith Haughey in 1978 and, with the exception of three years during which he worked with a small plaintiff firm, has been an important part of Smith Haughey's litigation team ever since.

Over the years, Tom has handled and tried a wide variety of civil and criminal cases, for both plaintiffs and defendants. The focus of his practice now is the representation of seriously injured people. Tom maintains a statewide practice representing people and families whose lives have been damaged through the negligent or wrongful conduct of others, securing compensation for trauma survivors and other victims of personal injury and wrongful death. Tom has helped clients recover millions in settlements and verdicts, and was named by Best Lawyers as "Grand Rapids Personal Injury Litigator of the Year" for 2009 and 2013.  He serves as Co-Chair of the firm's Plaintiff Personal Injury Practice Group.  To review testimonials from Tom's clients, click here.

Tom is a trial lawyer other lawyers turn to when needs arise. He regularly receives referrals to represent other lawyers' clients in catastrophic injury and complex commercial litigation cases. Tom represents business owners and companies who have suffered harm as a result of breaches and wrongdoing committed by others. He also represents lawyers, law firms, doctors, hospitals, and other professionals in liability cases and other disputes. Tom was honored to serve as lead trial counsel for the State Bar of Michigan in representing one of its officers in a 2004 federal jury trial. In 2016 and 2018, Tom was named by Best Lawyers as "Lawyer of the Year" for Grand Rapids Legal Malpractice Law.

In addition to his trial practice, Tom has worked as a neutral facilitative mediator since 1989. He has been certified to mediate cases in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, and is on the list of court-approved mediators in that court and many state courts. Tom has mediated hundreds of cases. He received his training as a mediator through programs at Harvard Law School, the Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan, and the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Tom has participated in training mediators by serving as a presenter and coach in various training sessions. To review a summary of Tom's mediation training, click here.

Tom is active in bar association functions designed to improve the delivery of legal services. He is an elected member of the Board of Commissioners of the State Bar of Michigan (District C) and is an appointed member of the Character and Fitness Committee of the State Bar of Michigan.  Additionally, for the 2013-2014 session, Tom has served as president of the American Inns of Court – Gerald R. Ford Chapter.  He has also served on the faculty on the Hillman Trial Advocacy Program sponsored by the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Having a keen interest in the social psychology of courtroom communication and jury decision making, Tom is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants and serves as a trial consultant to other lawyers handling cases.  A songwriter and member of the Nashville Songwriters Association, Tom has given a well-received presentation entitled, What Trial Lawyers Can Learn From Songwriters.

Outside of work, in addition to spending time with his family, Tom enjoys biking, waterskiing, and songwriting. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Grand Rapids Civic Theater.

Previous Experience


  • State Bar of Michigan (Member, Board of Commissioners, 2013)
  • Life Fellow, Michigan State Bar Foundation
  • Life Fellow, Justice Foundation of West Michigan
  • Fellow, American BAR Foundation
  • Member and State Chair, Michigan State Committee of American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Institute of Continuing Legal Education (Speaker/Presenter - various programs)
  • Litigation Section of State Bar of Michigan (Council member 1999-2004)
  • Federal Bar Association, Western Michigan Chapter (National Delegate 1998-1999; Vice President 1999-2001)
  • Hillman Trial Advocacy Program (Faculty member 1995 and 1996)
  • State Bar of Michigan (Member, Negligence, Litigation, and Alternative Dispute Resolution sections)
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association (Member, Jury Representation Committee)
  • Michigan Association for Justice
  • Representative Assembly -- State Bar of Michigan, 17th Judicial Circuit, elected member
  • American Society of Trial Consultants
  • H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Peacefully Evolve - brain injury support program), board member
  • Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, board member
  • Forest Hills Eastern High School Mock Trial Team, former coach
  • Nashville Songwriters Association, member


  • University of Michigan (B.A. in Psychology with High Distinction, 1975); Phi Beta Kappa; James A. Angel Scholar  
  • University of Tennessee (J.D., 1977); American Jurisprudence Awards in Contracts and Bills & Notes  
  • Harvard Law School Mediation and Negotiation Workshops (1988, 1989, 2001)  


  • State Bar of Michigan, 1978
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, 1978
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, 1993
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, 2007
  • US District Court, Central District of Illinois, 2016


  • Fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers

  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers

  • Member (Advocate Rank), American Board of Trial Advocates

  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation

  • Life Fellow, Michigan State Bar Foundation

  • Listed in Best Lawyers (2008-2020) -- Bet-the-Company Litigation, Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants, Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs, Commercial Litigation, Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants, Mediation

  • Listed as Best Lawyers "Lawyer of the Year" (2009, 2013) -- Personal Injury Litigation

  • Listed as Best Lawyers "Lawyer of the Year" (2016, 2018) -- Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants

  • Listed as Best Lawyers "Lawyer of the Year" (2019) -- Mediation

  • Listed as Best Lawyers "Lawyer of the Year" (2020) -- Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • Listed in Leading Lawyers (2014-2018) -- Personal Injury Law: General, ADR Law: Personal Injury

  • Listed as a "Michigan Super Lawyer" (2006-2019) -- Personal Injury Plaintiff: General

  • Listed as a "Local Litigation Star" in Benchmark Litigation (2015-2017) -- Commercial, Personal Injury Litigation

  • AV Peer Review Rated (highest rating for legal ability and ethical standard), by Martindale-Hubbell

  • Named one of Michigan's "Top 100 Trial Lawyers" by The National Trial Lawyers Assocation

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