Business Monday

20 under 40: Alison Smith

ALLISON SMITH, 34: “What makes a great attorney is not just practicing law. It’s those extra things in the community. I am able to say not only do I litigate for and advise clients, but I’m also reaching people without resources and giving them my resources.”
ALLISON SMITH, 34: “What makes a great attorney is not just practicing law. It’s those extra things in the community. I am able to say not only do I litigate for and advise clients, but I’m also reaching people without resources and giving them my resources.” MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Fort Lauderdale labor lawyer is also a mentor.

Age: 34

Occupation: Partner at Weiss Serota Helfman in Fort Lauderdale

Family status: In a relationship

Lives in: Miramar

At her young age, Alison Smith already has made a significant impression on her profession and in the community. Smith is an effective labor lawyer, a community leader and a mentor to college students who need to see career opportunity is possible.

Growing up in Jamaica, Smith realized early that she wanted to be an attorney. Her father practiced criminal defense law, and her sister also became a lawyer. Smith made her mark in the United States shortly after her arrival, becoming valedictorian of her law class at Nova Southeastern University.

Smith’s legal acumen and professional involvement earned her a position as the first black woman named partner in her 25-year-old Hollywood firm. As an attorney, Smith advises municipalities on labor issues and litigates when necessary. “It’s a very demanding job, but I love it,” she says.

A natural leader, Smith has influenced the legal community as president of the Caribbean Bar Association of South Florida. She also sits on the board of directors for Legal Aid, serves as vice-chair of the Broward County Bar Association’s liaison committee, and is a member of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers: “I think it’s important to be active in the community.

Smith wants to help motivate South Florida’s youth. She designed and developed a mentoring program called “Aspire to Inspire,” which partners with Miami Dade College to host a monthly panel featuring professionals who discuss their career paths with students. Smith personally recruits the presenters — often immigrants who had a difficult start and have gone on to career success: “If I can motivate one person, I’ll feel like I’m here for a purpose.”

From Smith: “What makes a great attorney is not just practicing law. It’s those extra things in the community. I am able to say not only do I litigate for and advise clients, but I’m also reaching people without resources and giving them my resources.”

About Smith: “Alison has proven herself to be a dedicated community leader as well as an excellent attorney. She is smart, dynamic and a people person. Already at a young age, she’s proven to be a major factor in the community, and I think that will continue.” — Jamie Cole, managing partner of Weiss Serota Helfman

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