Alia L. Smith

Of Counsel
Tel 202.508.1125
Fax 202.661.2299
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.

Judicial Clerkship

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

Representative Experience

  • Represented the Empire Center for Public Policy in a matter brought under New York’s Freedom of Information Law seeking to compel disclosure of certain information about pensions paid to retired public employees. In a unanimous decision, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, held that public pension funds must disclose the names of retirees who draw benefits.
  • Represented the production company Day Old Teeth and producer Mike Cahill, creators of the MTV reality show True Life, in a case arising from the plaintiff’s participation in an episode of the show titled “I’m a Chubby Chaser.” A Manhattan state court rejected the plaintiff’s breach of contract, fraud, and other tort claims, ruling that those claims were barred by a release the plaintiff had signed and later alleged had been fraudulently obtained.
  • Successfully defended Washington City Paper in a defamation action filed by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder over a profile titled “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.” After City Paper filed its motion to dismiss invoking the District of Columbia’s then-brand new anti-SLAPP statute, Snyder voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit.
  • Represented Newsday in its successful defense of a libel suit by a former assistant superintendent of a local school district. The court granted Newsday’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff was both a public official and an involuntary public figure who could not prove actual malice.

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


“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

Speaking Engagement

"Breaking Silence and Holding Those in Power Accountable," The Daily Tar Heel 125th Anniversary Conference and Gala, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, February 24, 2018
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. District Court for the District of Columbia

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