In 2004, Thomas Smothers left his position at the Public Defender's Office to go into private practice. Since then, Attorney Smothers has been practicing criminal defense exclusively and independently. He is currently licensed by the State of North Carolina as a specialist in state criminal law and DWI defense.

In order to gain this distinction, Thomas had to demonstrate substantial involvement in the field of criminal law, as well as an advanced knowledge of the North Carolina criminal law system. Lastly, he was subjected to an intensive peer review at the final stage of this specialty certification process.