Alison Smith

Alison Smith headshot in front of office window
Alison Smith standing in front of historical port city with building on hillside

I am most thankful today for…my family!  I have the most amazing, kind, protective and beautiful family in the world…especially my Grammie.

When in need of a quick recharge I…listen to music…there is always a song to express how I feel even when my own words fail me.

When I’m feeling stressed I… pray and listen to music.  My pastor is one of my best friends.  Music is magical.  Songwriters are poets.  I also like to read quotes.  Quotes can be healing as well.

I feel most alive when I…am told that I inspired someone…if I helped someone out of a rut or made them do something to positively shape their or someone else’s life, I feel like my existence is purposeful!

When I can’t fall asleep I… read!  I love to read practically anything I can get my hands on.  I have a very curious mind.

A period in my life when I really struggled was… when I transferred from my former firm to my current firm, where I had no goodwill, and had to prove my worth all over again.  It was a very humbling and challenging time…but I did it and it’s ten happy years later.

My preferred method of exercise is…nothing!  The running joke is that I do not wear (or own) sneakers.  I plan to change that because both my siblings exercise every single day and being active is a great thing.  

The most important thing in my life is…God first, then my family.  I could care less about money or material things.

The first thing I do when I wake up is…Pray and ask for guidance throughout the day and for my foot to fall where God desires. 

I am most looking forward to…a point in my life when I can devote more time to giving back.  I spend a great deal of time every year, even flying to other countries (sometimes just for  day), so I can mentor the youth.  I also have a number of young attorney mentees, but my time is so limited.  I wish I could do more.

I am most productive during the day when I…actually accomplish most of my to-do list.  I make one at the beginning of every week and add to it as the week goes on. 

The best advice I’ve received about balancing work and life is…always work to live, but never live to work!  Truer words have never been said!

The one thing I would tell a stressed out and overwhelmed lawyer is…Don’t waste your worry!!  Almost everything can be fixed.  It is NOT the end of the world.

Every day I make sure to…thank God for my life and the opportunities I have been given to advance and help others!

On a typical Saturday night you will find me…at a play, musical, or the opera!  I passionately love the arts and creative minds!

I can’t go a day without…praying and Chic-Fil-A lemonade…I am a vegetarian of 22 years who is unabashedly addicted to Chic-Fil-A lemonade!  I wait in line for several minutes just to buy it. 

During the week I wake up at…6:30 a.m.  I always wake up early because I go to bed extremely early.  I love waking up because I look forward to getting ready every day.  It is probably my favorite part of the day.

My guilty pleasure is…sweets. I can eat an entire large bag of candies in one sitting.  It’s quite shameful and is not good for teeth!

If I could go back to when I was a young lawyer and give myself advice, I would say…You’re not doing it right if you’re not having fun.  Don’t forget to have fun!  Life is too short and work is only one aspect of life!

The best way to deal with a difficult colleague or opposing counsel is…see if they will have lunch with you!  Whenever I have had difficulty with opposing counsel I try to diffuse the tension as quickly as I can, sometimes through a phone call and other times through meeting up with them because most of us have more in common than we know.

The quickest way to ruin your career is…by developing a reputation of being rude, unprofessional, arrogant or entitled.

The worst piece of advice I ever received was…always confront the issue…the truth is some things are better left unsaid.

My favorite hobby is…traveling.  I love to see and experience different cultures.  I have been to well over 20 countries.

I keep my priorities straight by…always being kind to everyone.  I am acutely aware that I am not above anyone, and I treat everyone with respect.  With the amount of time I spend helping the less fortunate, it is very difficult to feel anything but humbled to be able to live the lifestyle I do.  I am grateful every single day.

My favorite music is…I listen to every genre of music except Rock.  I love music!

The last time I cried tears of joy was…I only cry when I am sad.  When I am happy I smile brightly…never tears. 

The most relaxing vacation I ever took was… cruises are the most relaxing.  I have been on over a half a dozen cruises…they are the best because your entire itinerary is pre-planned…nothing to do but eat, see the sights, and have fun.  The most relaxing place I have ever been to however, is Sedona, Arizona.  My older sister and I go to Arizona every year for our yearly respite from work.  It is straight out of a picture book.

The most gratifying part about my job is… I can use my position as a partner, who is very involved in the community, as a gateway to do outreach to less fortunate persons and to attorneys who are struggling to find their footing as it relates to the practice of law.  I get asked to speak at my former law school and women’s empowerment conferences all the time to mentor and encourage people to keep pressing forward. 

The best life lesson I ever learned was…you absolutely cannot pour from an empty cup!  You have to fill yourself first (self-care), before you can ever help anyone else, or you will be the quintessential wounded healer! 

I wish more lawyers…were kinder to each other and spent more time disconnecting from work.

I usually eat for breakfast…I actually drink tea every morning…I love tea and have about four cups every day.

The best way to promote health & wellness among lawyers is…to encourage firms, especially large firms, to start health and wellness programs within the firm.  My former firm had a gym in-house and my current firm promotes a wellness program through our Wellness Committee.

My role model is…my grandmother!   She is the epitome of grace and kindness…beautiful inside and out.

I am currently reading…I’ll Scream Later by Marlee Matlin who lost her hearing at a young age.  It is her autobiography about how she overcame the many challenges associated with losing her hearing to be a successful deaf actress and advocate for the deaf community. 

The happiest lawyers are those that…give back to their communities and are plugged into what is happening not just in the legal community, but the community at large.  We have a responsibility to use our resources to help the less fortunate.

If I weren’t a lawyer I would be…a cosmetologist and/or hairdresser.  I absolutely love all things beauty-related.

Law schools should teach…stress management.  There are far too many attorneys who are struggling with mental health issues that stem largely from the stressful nature of the practice of law!

If I could travel anywhere in the world right now it would be…Australia!  Coming soon to my travel itinerary. 

It’s my dream to one day…visit over 100 countries.  I would travel to a new country every few days if I could.  I love to see the world because it makes you acutely aware of how vast this world is and helps you to disconnect from your little bubble that can be quite confining.

 Alison Smith is the first Black woman to ever earn the title of partner at Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman and also serves as Deputy City Attorney for the City of Miramar.