A specialist in oil and gas law, Professor Smith is co-author of the leading casebook on Oil and Gas Law (West, 5th ed., 2008), and the leading treatise on Texas Law of Oil and Gas (3 volumes, 2nd ed., LEXIS Law Pub., 1998 and 2009 update). Other co-authored books on oil and gas law include Hemingway Oil and Gas Law and Taxation (4th ed., 2004), and International Petroleum Transactions (2nd ed., 2000), 3rd ed. pending for 2010. He is also co-author of the widely used text, Cases and Materials on Property (Foundation, 9th ed., 2007).
In 2008 Professor Smith received the Massey Teaching Excellence Award. Earlier teaching awards include the Clyde Martz Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation in 1998, and the Texas Excellence Teaching Award for the School of Law from the Ex-Students Association in 2000. In the same year, Annual Institute of Oil, Gas and Mineral Law, which is co-sponsored by the Texas State Bar Section on Oil, Gas and Energy Law and the University of Texas School of Law, now in its 36th year, was re-named the Ernest E. Smith Oil, Gas and Mineral Law Institute. The Ernest E. Smith Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law was established in 1994, and the Ernest E. Smith Professorship in Law was established in 1996.
Professor Smith teaches classes in the areas of property, international petroleum transactions, and wind energy law. A former Dean of the Law School, Professor Smith has also been a Visiting Professor at several law schools including Harvard.