Smith will take over the firm's global professional development responsibilities from London partner David Yates from 1 October, who in turn will become the firm's global director of strategic planning and development.
He will also be an ex-officio member of the firm's international executive committee.
Smith was selected by Baker & McKenzie from a shortlist of five, which included candidates from the UK, the US and Australia. He will be based in London.
He became chief executive officer of the Norton Rose M5 Group in 1990.