Deborah Alley Smith
Managing Partner

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.

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Best Lawyers Award Badge

Reported Decisions

  • Nationwide Retirement Solutions, Inc. v. PEBCO, Inc., 2014 Ala. LEXIS 43 (Ala. 2014).
  • McDonald v. Kubota Mfg. of Am. Corp., 2013 Ala. LEXIS 202 (Ala. 2013)
  • Murphy Bros., Inc. v. Michetti Pipe Stringing, Inc., 526 U.S. 344, 119 S. Ct. 1322, 143 L. Ed. 2d 448 (1999).
  • Category 5 Mgmt Group LLC v. Nat’l Cas. Ins. Co., 2012 WL 2424414 (11th Cir. June 26, 2012)
  • Ex parte Carter, 66 So. 3d 231 (Ala 2010)
  • Poole v. Prince, 61 So. 3d 258 (Ala 2010)
  • Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s v. S. Nat’l Gas Co., 41 So. 3d 56 (Ala. 2009).
  • AstraZeneca LP v. State, 41 So. 3d 15 (Ala. 2009).
  • Chandler v. Blizzard, 38 So. 3d 872 (Ala. 2009).
  • Line v. Ventura, 38 So. 3d 1 (Ala. 2009).
  • White Smile USA, Inc. v. Bd. of Dental Exam’rs of Ala., 36 So. 3d 9 (Ala. 2009) (amicus curiae).
  • Shaffer v. Regions Fin. Corp., 29 So. 3d 872 (Ala. 2009).
  • Bryan v. Ala. Power Co., 20 So. 3d 108 (Ala. 2009) (amicus curiae).
  • Carr v. Int’l Ref. & Mfg. Co., 13 So. 3d 947 (Ala. 2009).
  • Christ v. Beneficial Corp., 547 F.3d 1292 (11th Cir. 2008).
  • Ex parte Novartis Pharms. Corp., 991 So. 2d 1263 (Ala. 2008).
  • Ex parte Int’l Ref. & Mfg. Co., 972 So. 2d 784 (Ala. 2007).
  • Edwards v. Allied Home Mortg. Capital Corp., 962 So. 2d 194 (Ala. 2007).
  • Samara Consulting Group v. S & Davis Int’l, Inc., 103 F. App’x 961, 2006 WL 2990214 (11th Cir. 2006).
  • Systrends, Inc. v. Group 8760, LLC, 959 So. 2d 1052 (Ala. 2006).
  • Holcomb v. Carraway, 945 So. 2d 1009 (Ala. 2006).
  • Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s v. S. Nat’l Gas Co., 939 So. 2d 21 (Ala. 2006).
  • Black v. Comer, 920 So. 2d 1083 (Ala. 2005).
  • Ex parte Flexible Prods. Co., 915 So. 2d 34 (Ala. 2005).
  • Ameritas Variable Life Ins. Co. v. Roach, 411 F.3d 1328 (11th Cir. 2005).
  • Thompson Props. 119AA 370 Ltd. v. Birmingham Hide & Tallow Co., 897 So. 2d 248 (Ala. 2004).
  • Blount Recycling LLC v. City of Cullman, 884 So. 2d 850 (Ala. 2003).
  • Commercial Union Ins. Co. v. DeShazo, 845 So. 2d 766 (Ala. 2002).
  • Dunigan v. Sports Champions, Inc., 824 So. 2d 720 (Ala. 2001).
  • Slay v. Keller, Inc., 823 So. 2d 623 (Ala. 2001).
  • Ex parte King, 821 So. 2d 205 (Ala. 2001).
  • Shepherd v. Summit Mgmt. Co., 794 So. 2d 1110 (Ala. Civ. App. 2000).
  • Baker v. Letica Corp., 785 So. 2d 1142 (Ala. 2000).
  • Allstate Ins. Co. v. Hardnett, 763 So. 2d 963 (Ala. 2000).
  • City of Tuscaloosa v. Harcross Chems., Inc., 158 F.3d 548 (11th Cir. 1998).
  • Liberty Nat’l Life Ins. Co. v. Allen, 699 So. 2d 138 (Ala. 1997).
  • Ala. Plating Co. v. U.S. Fid. & Guar. Co., 690 So. 2d 331 (Ala. 1996).
  • Ex parte Gargis, 686 So. 2d 278 (Ala. 1996).
  • Ex parte St. Vincent’s Hosp., 652 So. 2d 225 (Ala. 1994).
  • Cahaba Land Assocs., Inc. v. Secor Bank, Fed. Sav. Bank, 619 So. 2d 1372 (Ala. 1993).
Professional and Community Involvement
  • American Academy of Appellate Lawyers: Member
  • Birmingham Bar Foundation: President, Board of Directors, 2016; Member, Board of Directors, 2010 – present
  • Birmingham Business Alliance: Board of Directors, 2015
  • Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program: President, 2015
  • Teach for America-Alabama: Member, Advisory Board, 2015-Present
  • Blueprint Birmingham, Economic Prosperity Advisory Group
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI): Member
  • Alabama Defense Lawyers Association (ADLA): Member
  • 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
  • Samford University Cumberland School of Law: Adjunct Professor, Advanced Problems in Appellate Procedure and Alabama Trial Practice and Procedure
  • Leadership Birmingham, 2013-2014
  • Legal Aid Society of Birmingham: Board Member, 2012
  • Alabama State Bar: Chair, Appellate Practice Section, 2004; Co-Chair, Appellate Practice Section, 2003
  • The Alabama Lawyer: Member, Editorial Board, 1992-1998
Awards and Recognition
  • Fellow, The American Bar Foundation
  • AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell*
  • Recognized in Chambers USA for Litigation: Appellate (Band 1)
  • Selected for inclusion in the 2017 Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America
  • Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2010-2018 in the fields of Appellate Practice and Commercial Litigation; and in 2012-2018 for field of Insurance Law; 2014 Birmingham Insurance Law “Lawyer of the Year”
  • Selected for inclusion in Alabama Super Lawyers® in 2008-2015 in the field of appellate law and 2008-2011 in the field of business litigation; in Mid-South Region Super Lawyers in 2016-2017 in the field of appellate law
  • Listed as one of the Top 25 Women Super Lawyers in Alabama in 2008-2015 and 2017; Top 50 Alabama Super Lawyers, 2011 – 2016
  • 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 – 2015; listed in Top 250 Women in Litigation 2012 – 2014
  • Selected for inclusion in Benchmark Appellate as Eleventh Circuit Local Litigation Star in Alabama, 2012-2013
  • Listed by B-Metro magazine among its 2015-2017 “Top Attorneys” and 2015-2017 “Top Women Lawyers”
  • Listed as a “Top Attorney” in Birmingham Magazine for Appellate Law
  • Listed as one of the Birmingham Business Journal’s “Best of the Birmingham Bar”
Publications and Presentations
  • Author, Claims by Non-Clients Against Professionals – Third Party Beneficiary, Negligence and Negligent Misrepresentation, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (June 2015)
  • Author, Getting the Right Information to Select the Right Jurors – or Being in a Position to Complain if You Don’t, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (June 2015)
  • Author, Asking The Right Questions And Getting The Right Information To Select The Right Jurors – Or To Be In A Position To Complain If You Don’t, Alabama Defense Lawyers Association Journal (May 2015)
  • Author, The Professor by Robert Bailey, Reviewed by Deborah Alley SmithAlabama Defense Lawyers Association Journal (May 2015).
  • Co-Author with Sharon D. Stuart, The Limits to the Sky: Insurance Issues Related to Unmanned Aerial Systems, Defense Research Institute (DRI) In-House Defense Quarterly (Spring 2015).
  • Author, 11th Circuit Rules on Commencement of Statute of Limitations on ERISA Claim for Benefits, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (January 2015)
  • Author, Where Have All The (Female) Attorneys Gone?, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (August 2014)
  • Author, Why Education Matters in a Nonstop Economy, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (April 2014)
  • Co-Author with Abbott Marie Jones, The U.S. Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Cases: The Next Loving or Wait and See?, UK Supreme Court Blog (Apr. 9, 2013).
  • 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).
  • Author, 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).
  • Author, The Nuts and Bolts of Civil Appeals, 54 The Alabama Lawyer 56 (Jan. 1993).
  • Author, Comparative Fault, Alabama Defense Lawyers Association Journal (Oct. 1992).
  • Author, 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).
  • Author, Opposing Petitions for Writs of Certiorari
  • Author, Successful Rehearing and Certiorari in the Alabama Courts
*AV® Preeminent and BV® Distinguished are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.
Admissions
  • 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