Ariel Marie Smith was born on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands to Magda Leoniece King Smith and the late Paul E. Smith. She is the oldest and only girl of that union which produced three children. She has family roots in Tortola, British Virgin Islands and St. Kitts, West Indies and is a proud native Virgin Islander who cares deeply for the people of the Virgin Islands community. Her initial introduction to law was through her mother who, now retired, was a thirty-year employee with the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands. She attributes to her father, who she considers the consummate gentlemen, savvy entrepreneur, — a self-made man, — her acumen for creative problem solving, willingness to collaborate and fair-minded nature.
She is a proud mother of three. Her adult children are her daughter Kamille Grace Willis, who works as a health care consultant with a major consulting firm in Dallas, Texas; her older son Vaughn Louis Willis, who currently serves in the U.S. Navy, as an electronics specialist; and her youngest, Evan Lionel Watts, who is a rising star and senior at Charlotte Amalie High School.
For her elementary education, Attorney Smith attended Dober Elementary School under the tutelage of former Principal Ms. Leona B. Wheatley, who also taught her mother. She completed her elementary school education at E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary School, and then matriculated to junior high school at Ivanna Eudora Kean High, which at that time was in split session and was known as Nazareth Bay High School. She transferred to Charlotte Amalie High School and graduated as a Mighty and Proud Chicken Hawk, whose motto, “To Excel Always,” is one that she is ever mindful of and instills in her children, who will all be graduates of Charlotte Amalie High School. After high school, she attended Rutgers College, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Thereafter, she worked as a paralegal at a New York brokerage firm for four years and then continued her education at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey earning a Juris Doctorate degree in May 1993. After graduation from Rutgers-Newark law school, she returned to the Virgin Islands, and served at the Superior Court, formerly the Territorial Court, initially as a law clerk to former Judge Henry C. Smock and former Judge Soraya Diase. In the beginning of her career, she assisted with coordinating the first Moot Court competition sponsored by the Superior Court. Over the years, she served as part of coaching teams for various St. Thomas high schools and periodically functioned as a SPARKS Street Law lecturer teaching Constitutional Law to students at the Charlotte Amalie High School.
At her clerkship, she was Attorney Smock’s first firm associate, and worked in that capacity for over eleven years. During her tenure, she practiced general civil litigation, with a focus on insurance defense. In addition, Attorney Smith has litigated probate matters, child custody disputes, divorce proceedings, real estate transactions, as well as criminal defense and criminal appeals. In 2006, Attorney Smith began her public service career with the Office of the Territorial Public Defender. While there, she represented indigent defendants through client consultations, motion practice, advising on plea offers, as well as providing defense in jury and bench trials in matters that ranged from disturbance of the peace to homicide. Conservatively, during this period, she litigated more than twenty jury trials, and this figure does not include the countless motions argued before the District Court, Superior Court, and administrative tribunals.
In 2011, she left the Office of the Territorial Public Defender and continued her public service career as an Assistant Attorney General at the Virgin Islands Department of Justice in the Civil Division. In 2016, Attorney Smith was promoted to Chief of the Civil Division. As Civil Chief, Attorney Smith litigated income tax, age discrimination and complex contract cases while continuing to manage a team of six lawyers and four support staff.
On April 12, 2023, Governor Albert Bryan officially nominated Attorney Smith as the next Attorney General of the United States Virgin Islands. Attorney Smith views her new role as an opportunity to continue the “good work” that she has already begun at the Virgin Islands Department of Justice and continued service to the Virgin Islands community. On June 14, 2023, her nomination was unanimously confirmed by the Virgin Islands Legislature.
On the personal side, her passions are traveling the world and spending quality time with close friends and family. She has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, North America, South America, and several countries throughout Europe and Africa. She remains open to new and interesting experiences and looks forward to continuing the rewarding work of serving the People of the Virgin Islands.