Alia L. Smith

Of Counsel She / Her / Hers
Washington, DC

Alia L. Smith’s practice focuses on defending publishers and broadcasters against claims of defamation and other newsgathering torts, and representing them in litigation over access, the Freedom Of Information Act, subpoenas, copyrights, and trademarks. In addition, she provides counseling and prepublication advice to a number of the firm’s clients, including many newspapers in the New York City area. Alia speaks regularly on media law topics to journalists and students.

Alia previously was with the highly regarded First Amendment boutique law firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, which merged with Ballard Spahr in October 2017.

Experience 

Representative Matters

  • Represented The E.W. Scripps Company in FOIL litigation against the NYPD, leading to the release of data about how the department compiles crime statistics and clearance rates. The resulting reporting by Scripps prompted the Mayor’s Office to change its public crime reporting system to be more accurate and transparent.
  • Represent Berlitz Languages, Inc. in defamation litigation brought by former student and government official. The D.C. Superior Court granted Berlitz’s Anti-SLAPP motion pursuant to the common interest privilege.
  • Represented a coalition of news and media organizations in their amicus effort in Verity v. USA Today in the Supreme Court of Idaho. In its opinion, the Court largely adopted the “rigorous” test for implied libel urged by amici.

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

Washington, D.C., Super Lawyers, media & advertising, 2014-2017

Speaking Engagements

"Copyrights and Wrongs," National Press Club’s Journalism Institute, March 31, 2021

"The Basics of Defamation," New York Press Association, September 15, 2020

"Copyright Law," Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, September 8, 2020

"Breaking Silence and Holding Those in Power Accountable," The Daily Tar Heel 125th Anniversary Conference and Gala, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, February 24, 2018

Publications

“Where Can a Lawsuit Be Brought Against You for Information Posted to Your Web Site, Blog, or Social Media Page?” Internet Publishing: Perils and Practices, 2013

“Rule 24(b): Broadening the Use of Permissive Intervention to Challenge Confidentiality Orders,” 67 George Washington Law Review 852, 1999

Credentials 

Education

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)

Admissions

New York

District of Columbia

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

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