Alia Smith

Alia L. Smith

Of Counsel She / Her / Hers
Washington, DC

Alia L. Smith's practice focuses on working with media organizations, entertainment companies, public interest groups, and others engaged in public advocacy and speech.

Alia regularly defends clients in state and federal courts in connection with defamation, privacy, and other claims targeting their speech. She represents publishers in their efforts to obtain access to records (including under the Freedom of Information Act) and to resist subpoenas for their newsgathering materials. And she provides counseling and pre-publication advice on risk management, copyright concerns, and other issues to numerous publications of all sizes, from national newspapers to regional broadcasters, to start-up websites, to freelancers. In addition, Alia speaks frequently on media law topics to lawyers, journalists, and students.


Representative Matters

  • Represent Newsday in FOIL litigation brought against the Nassau County (NY) police department for release of police disciplinary records. New York’s Appellate Division, Second Department, held that records related to unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct were not categorically exempt from disclosure. Newsday LLC v. Nassau County Police Dep’t, 222 A.D.3d 85 (2d Dep’t 2023).
  • Represent American University and its publication Current in connection with defamation and other claims arising from speech about a newsroom manager’s workplace behavior. The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the lower courts’ dismissals in full under the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act and upheld an award of attorneys’ fees to American. Berry v. Am. Univ., 2024 D.C. App. LEXIS 50 (D.C. Feb. 13, 2024).
  • Represented The American Prospect in defamation litigation over its reporting on nursing homes in an article entitled “The Nursing Home Slumlord Manifesto.” On the Prospect’s motion to dismiss, the Eastern District of New York held that the challenged statements—concerning the poor quality of some of the plaintiff’s nursing homes and alleged financial and other improprieties—were fair reports under N.Y. Civil Rights Law § 74, were substantially true, or were non-actionable opinions. Landa v. The American Prospect, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143326.

Professional Highlights

Judicial Clerkship

Hon. David A. Ezra of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii

Professional Activities

ABA Forum on Communications Law

ABA Women in Communications Law Committee

District of Columbia Bar Association, Media Law Committee

New York City Bar Association, Communications and Media Law Committee, past Secretary

Recognition & Accomplishments

Chambers USA, Media & Entertainment (District of Columbia), 2024

Speaking Engagements

Update on Section 50-a Repeal, New York State Bar Association, Committee on Media Law, September 21, 2023

"Hot Topics in Media Law," Media Fest '22, October 27, 2022

"How To: Not Get Sued," News Leaders Association Conference, October 7, 2021




George Washington University Law School (J.D. 2000, with high honors)
Senior Projects Editor, The George Washington Law Review

Order of the Coif

Moot Court Board

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A. Journalism 1996)


New York

District of Columbia


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of New York