Deborah Alley Smith, Esq.
Debbie Smith spends much of her time preparing for something that may never happen. And when it does happen, she rarely sees repeat business from the same client. That’s because Debbie’s practice is post-judgment and appellate litigation. She devotes her time to research and writing and to preparing her Christian & Small partners for trial to assure that significant issues are preserved in the event of an appeal. When it is necessary to seek post-judgment relief or to appeal (or the opposing side does so), Debbie assists in the post-judgment briefing and presentation and handles the appeal. She is frequently enlisted to handle post judgment motions and appeals in cases tried by lawyers from other firms.
One of Debbie’s greatest legal victories was briefing, arguing and winning a case before the United States Supreme Court. She says that at first she was skeptical about seeking review in the Supreme Court, but when she started researching the matter, Debbie knew it was exactly the type of case the Supreme Court should take and should reverse. The Court agreed, and the experience taught Debbie that she should never judge too quickly or underestimate the power of creative and sound legal arguments.
- University of Tennessee, 1982, B.A.
- University of Alabama School of Law, 1985, J.D. (Alabama Law Review, Student Works Editor; Bench and Bar Legal Honor Society)
- Alabama, 1985
- United States Supreme Court
- United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
- United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama
- United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama
- United States District Court, Southern District of Alabama
Professional and Community Involvement:
- Blueprint Birmingham, Economic Prosperity Advisory Group
- Legal Aid Society of Birmingham: Board Member, 2012
- Defense Research Institute (DRI): Member
- Alabama Defense Lawyers Association (ADLA): Member
- The Alabama Lawyer: Member, Editorial Board, 1992-1998
- Alabama State Bar: Chair, Appellate Practice Section, 2004; Co-Chair, Appellate Practice Section, 2003
- Alabama Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure: Member, 2004-present
- Birmingham American Inns of Court: Member
- Council of Appellate Lawyers: Member
- Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution: Member, Mediator Roster
- Alabama Supreme Court: Member, Appellate Mediation Roster
- American Bar Association (ABA): Member
- Birmingham Bar Association: Member, Executive Committee, 2007-2009; Secretary/Treasurer, 2012
- Birmingham Bar Foundation: Member, Board of Directors, 2010 – present
- Samford University Cumberland School of Law: Adjunct Professor, Advanced Problems in Appellate Procedure and Alabama Trial Practice and Procedure
Awards and Recognition:
- Fellow, The American Bar Foundation
- AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell*
- Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2010-2014 in the fields of appellate practice and commercial litigation; and in 2012-2014 for field of insurance law; 2014 Birmingham Insurance Law “Lawyer of the Year”
- Selected for inclusion in Alabama Super Lawyers® 2008-2013 in the field of appellate and 2008-2011 in the field of business litigation
- Listed as one of the Top 25 Women Lawyers in Alabama in 2008-2013, a list comprised of the women lawyers who received the highest number of points in the Alabama Super Lawyers nomination, research and blue ribbon review process. Top 50 Alabama Super Lawyers, 2011 – 2013
- Selected for inclusion in Benchmark Litigation’s list of Alabama Litigation Future Stars 2011; listed as Local Litigation Star in the field of appellate practice 2012
- Selected for inclusion in Benchmark Appellate as Eleventh Circuit Local Litigation Star in Alabama – 2012
- Listed as a “Top Attorney” in Birmingham Magazine for appellate law, 2009-2013
- Listed as one of the Birmingham Business Journal’s “Best of the Birmingham Bar”
Publications and Presentations:
- Presenter at the Primerus Defense Institute Convocation: How to Win the War, Not just the Battle, With an Appellate Lawyer in Your Foxhole (2012).
- Presenter at the Alabama Insurance Mutual Avoiding Malpractice Seminar:Update on Alabama Appellate Practice & Procedure: Avoiding Malpractice When Handling Appeals (Dec. 2010).
- Retention of Women Lawyers – Is Team Building One of the Keys?, DRI Law Practice Management Review (2010).
- Presenter at the Primerus Defense Institute’s Annual Client Convocation: No Way Out: Removal of Cases to Federal Court – Legal Ramifications, Amount in Controversy & Fraudulent Joinder (Apr. 25, 2009).
- Presenter at the Alabama State Bar Annual Meeting: The Final Word: Finality and Rule 54(b) (July 11, 2008).
- Presenter at the Cumberland School of Law CLE Seminar on Post-Judgment Motion Practice: Motions for Judgment as a Matter of Law and Motions for New Trial (Nov. 30, 2007).
- Presenter with Justice Champ Lyons, Jr. at the Alabama Bar Institute for Continuing Legal Education Appellate Practice Seminar: Post-Judgment Motions (Feb. 2005).
- Preparation of Course Materials for the Alabama Supreme Court and Alabama Judicial College Seminar on the Fundamentals of Appellate Practice: Procedures and Professionalism: Perfecting the Appeal and Supplying the Record in Civil Cases (2004).
- Presenter at the Alabama Bar Institute for Continuing Legal Education Appellate Practice Seminar: Arguing for a Change in the Law: Can You? Should You? If So, How? (Apr. 12, 2002).
- Presenter at the CLE Alabama Seminar: A Practitioner’s Guide to Post-Judgment Motions (2001).
- Certiorari Practice: What You Need to Know, Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin, 18 (Summer 1996).
- The Nuts and Bolts of Civil Appeals, 54 The Alabama Lawyer 56 (Jan. 1993).
- Comparative Fault, Alabama Defense Lawyers Association Journal (Oct. 1992).
- A Controversial Settling of a Settlement Controversy: The Supreme Court Declares the Federal Arbitration Act Preemptive of State Laws and Applicable in State Courts, 36 Ala. L. Rev. 273 (1984).
- Opposing Petitions for Writs of Certiorari
- Successful Rehearing and Certiorari in the Alabama Courts
Areas of Practice:
- Civil Litigation
- Electronic Discovery
Attorney News & Announcements:
- 16 Christian & Small Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
- Christian & Small Attorneys Recognized among Benchmark Litigation’s Top Litigators
- 22 Christian & Small Attorneys Recognized by 2014 Alabama Super Lawyers
- Christian & Small Managing Partner Invited to Participate in the 2013 – 2014 Leadership Birmingham Class
- 16 Christian & Small Attorneys Recognized as 2014 Best Lawyers in America
- 20 Christian & Small Attorneys Recognized by 2013 Alabama Super Lawyers
- Christian & Small Attorneys Named Top Women in Litigation
- Christian & Small Attorneys Included in 2013 Best Lawyers
- Christian & Small Managing Partner Nominated Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
- Christian & Small Included in Birmingham Magazine’s 2012 Top Attorneys
- Deborah Alley Smith and Jonathan W. Macklem Elected to Leadership Positions with Birmingham Bar Association