John P. Smolen

Of Counsel
Tel 410.528.5582
Fax 410.528.5650

John P. Smolen has helped advance many of the largest and most complex design-build and public-private partnership (P3) infrastructure projects in the nation.

Most recently, John has played a leading role in the procurement, negotiation, financing, and administration of several P3 and design-build projects in the transportation, transit, and maritime/riverine port spaces. John has represented public clients in Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Nebraska, and Alaska, among others, including participation on the legal team representing Maryland's $2 billion Purple Line Light Rail, that state's first P3 transit project.

In addition to his experience with transportation, transit system, and port developments, John has considerable experience in engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) project delivery in the energy and emerging technology spaces. He has led project developments involving wind, solar, geothermal, and waste-to-energy resources, and he has helped private clients commercialize energy-related technology.

Before becoming a lawyer, John served for more than a decade in the U.S. Navy as an officer, aviator, flight instructor, and Naval ROTC instructor at Virginia Tech.

Representative Matters

  • PortKC (Port Authority of Kansas City, Missouri) – Missouri River Terminal (MRT) riverine port P3 Project. Lead counsel
  • Indiana Department of Transportation-North Split Design-Build Best Value Project – Contract and procurement counsel to INDOT
  • Nebraska Department of Transportation – Scribner-West Point Design-Build Project. Contract co-counsel to NDOT on its first transportation design-build contract
  • Maryland Transit Administration and Maryland Department of Transportation – Purple Line Light Rail availability payment P3 transit project. Key member of the primary legal team, advising on procurement, contract, financing, and contract administration matters to Maryland's first transit P3 project
  • Virginia Department of Transportation – U.S. Route 121 (f/k/a Coalfields Expressway), Poplar Creek Phase A, U.S. 460 Connector Phase II – co-lead counsel on comprehensive agreement, design-build contract program
  • Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) – East End Crossing (Lewis and Clark Bridge). Key member of the legal team, primary contract administration counsel to IFA on the first bridge procured via an availability payment P3 transaction in the United States
  • Private Sector Heavy Industry Client – Coal Processing Facility. Lead counsel to a private sector client in development of an EPC project to design and build a commercial scale coal processing facility
  • Private Sector Renewable Energy Project Developer – Renewable Energy Projects. Counsel to an early-stage development client in renewable energy power producing facilities in the mountain states and Hawaii
  • Private Sector Wind Energy Project Owner – Renewable Energy Projects. Counsel on a portfolio of joint project development efforts for renewable energy projects throughout the Midwest, representing the owner in project development and construction matters

Pro Bono Experience

As part of his pro bono practice, John has represented military veterans before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on issues relating to benefits. He also has represented homeless/at-risk clients in criminal record expungement proceedings.

Professional Activities

Maryland State Bar Association

Kansas Bar Association

Young Professionals in Transportation – Baltimore

Recognitions & Accomplishments

Super Lawyers "Rising Star," 2014-2017


Co-author, "East End Crossing Project – Availability Payment P3 in Action," World Highways, June 2017

Speaking Engagements

Moderator, "Ports and One-Off Projects Around the Nation," The Bond Buyer's Transportation Finance/P3 Conference, Denver, CO, November 15, 2019

Panelist, "Procurement and Selection Issues," P3 Legal Institute, National Council for Public Private Partnerships (NCPPP) Webinar, July 2019

Panelist, "Making Surety Work for P3s," NCPPP, P3Connect, Denver, CO, May 2019

Moderator, "Innovative Project Delivery in the Heartland: A Spotlight on Kansas City," NCPPP, P3Connect, Denver, CO, May 2019

Moderator, "Infrastructure 2.0: Re-imagining Transportation and Mobility in the Future Industrial City," Science History Institute, T.T. Chao Symposium on Innovation, Houston, TX, April 2019

Moderator/Panelist, "Third-Party Risks in P3 Transactions," P3 Legal Institute, NCPPP Webinar, March 2019

Panelist, "Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships," Economic Development Symposium, Yale School of Management, New Haven, CT, February 2019

Faculty, "Nuts and Bolts of P3s," NCPPP Webinar, January 2019

Faculty, "Framework, First Steps," NCPPP P3 Bootcamp, Washington D.C., December 2018

Facilitator, Panel Moderator, P3 Federal Conference, Washington, D.C., November 2018 (co-facilitated "A Lawyer and an Engineer Walk into a P3 Contract…Technical Documents Best Practices"; moderated, "Moving Transit P3s Forward")

Faculty, "Framework, First Steps," "Procurement," and "P3 Trends," NCPPP P3 Bootcamp, Chicago, IL, September 2018

Faculty, "Identifying and Developing a P3 Project," and "Termination Provisions/Compensation in the P3 Context," NCPPP P3 Bootcamp, Nashville, TN, June 2018

Panelist, "P3 Hot Topics," Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), Maryland Chapter, Greenbelt, MD, June 2018

Panelist, "Innovative P3 Arrangements," American Association of Port Authorities, Capital Projects Seminar, Norfolk, VA, May 2018

Moderator, "What's Ahead for U.S. Infrastructure," NCPPP P3 Insights, Washington, D.C., April 2018

Instructor, "Renewable Energy Projects – Key Contracts, including the Power Purchase Agreement," International Law Institute, Washington, D.C., April 2018

Moderator, "Trends in P3 Contract Administration," NCPPP, P3Connect, Miami Beach, FL, January 2018

Panelist, "Government Contracts 2017: Infrastructure Improvements – Impact on Government Contracts," Practising Law Institute, Washington, D.C., September 2017

Instructor, "P3 Case Studies," International Law Institute, Washington, D.C., July and November 2017, July 2018

Instructor, "P3 Case Studies," Institute for Public-Private Partnerships, Arlington, VA, May 2017

Faculty, "P3 Bootcamp," NCPPP, Philadelphia, PA, May, 2017

Panelist, "Current Issues in Public Private Partnerships for State and Local Procurement," American Bar Association, Public Contract Law Section, State and Local Procurement Symposium, St. Louis, MO, April 2017

Panelist, "Public-Private Partnerships 101," National League of Cities, Congressional City Conference, Washington, D.C., March 2017

Panelist, "The Framework of Public-Private Partnerships," Kentucky Chamber of Commerce/NCPPP Conference, "Kentucky Public-Private Partnerships: Opportunities and Obstacles," Lexington, KY, October 2016

Panelist, "Procurement Process" and "Identifying and Developing the P3 Project," NCPPP P3 Bootcamp, Boston, MA, October 2016

Instructor, "PPP Case Studies," International Law Institute, Washington, D.C., July 2016

Panelist, "Negotiating the P3 Agreement," NCPPP, P3Connect 2016 Conference, Chicago, IL, June 2016

Panelist, "Design-Build in Coal Country: Case Study of 460 Connector Phase II," DBIA Conference, Charlotte, NC, April 2016

Instructor, "Arranging, Structuring and Documenting the Financing of P3s," International Law Institute, Washington, D.C., October 2015

Panelist, "The First Steps in the P3 Process," NCPPP/American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Conference - Georgia Chapter, Atlanta, GA, September 2015

Panelist, "Public-Private Partnerships as a Vehicle for Economic Development & Promotion of the Rule of Law," University of Baltimore School of Law, Journal of Land and Development, Spring 2015 Symposium, Baltimore, MD, April 2015

Panelist, "Alternative Delivery of Mega-Projects," DBIA Conference, Jacksonville, FL, August 2013

Board Memberships

Executive Committee, Vice President (Education), National Council for Public-Private Partnerships

University of Kansas School of Law (J.D. 2007)
Editor-in-Chief, Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (M.A. 2004)

U.S. Naval Academy (B.S., 1995, with merit)


District of Columbia


U.S. Supreme Court