J. Timothy "Tim" Smith
J. Timothy Smith, P.C.
B.S., Auburn University; J.D., Birmingham School of Law
Years Practicing: 28 years
How have you been involved in the Birmingham Bar?
I joined the Birmingham Bar Association during my first year of practice in Birmingham. While I obviously had enough knowledge to complete law school and pass the bar exam, I quickly realized that I had much more to learn regarding the practice of law itself. I became involved in many activities at the bar, becoming particularly active in the Young Lawyers Section. I served on many committees throughout the years, which led to my involvement with the Alabama State Bar Family Law Section, which I chaired for one year.
Over the years, I have served on the Bulletin, CLE, Entertainment, Public Relations, and Public Service Committees, as well as the Grievance Committee, the BBA Executive Committee, and the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program (BBVLP). Currently, I serve as Chair of the BBA Solo/Small Firm Section. I am proud to have taken more than thirty-five (35) pro bono cases for the BBVLP over the past several years.
What value has Birmingham Bar membership brought to you?
You get out of the BBA exactly what you put into it. If a lawyer joins at least one section, attends most of the social events the bar offers, takes part in CLEs offered by both the Bar and it's sections, and cultivates friendships while doing so, their practice is more likely to thrive than if they choose to simply pay membership dues and do nothing else. Part of the culture and history of the Birmingham legal community centers around the Birmingham Bar Association. I appreciate that the BBA affords so many opportunities to meet other attorneys and judges, become active in the community and learn, first-hand, new ways to operate and grow our practices.
What is the most rewarding experience in your practice of law?
While it is nice - and necessary - for a lawyer to be paid a fee for his or her services, my most rewarding experiences while practicing law have been with pro bono clients. Once I meet with them, their stories and concerns become mine. For the most part, they appreciate my help and are aware that, without it, the outcome of their case would be completely different. I have seen so many indigent clients come through my door with broken spirits; however, with mine and other's help, they have moved on to thrive in their jobs and with their families. Being an attorney puts a lawyer in a wonderful position to help people who are in need.
What makes you proud to be a lawyer?
The company I keep. I am constantly surrounded by great thinkers, many of whom have share their experience and knowledge with me over the years. Presiding Judge Houston Brown, Justice Ralph Cook and the late Ronnie Noojin particularly come to mind. All three gentlemen taught me more about people and stressed that practicing law is primarily about people, not solely about making money or gaining popularity with my peers. Without their advice, I question whether I would have been successful in the practice of law.
What advice would you give to new lawyers just beginning practice?
1. Figure out what you are worth as an attorney and don't charge your client one penny more; 2. Listen to other lawyers talk. It is usually entertaining and you will probably learn something; 3. Do volunteer work from the beginning. It will keep your hear in the right place; and 4. Be courteous to other lawyers. Most lawyers appreciate the attorneys who try and work with them - and remember those that don't!
Any information you would like to share about family, hobbies, etc.? There is a credit card company that used "Membership has its Privileges" in it's ad campaign for years. While I have received many, many benefits during my tenure as a member of the Birmingham Bar Association, the best and most surprising benefit I received was meeting my beautiful and wonderful wife in the Ronnie Noojin Courtyard during a beautiful April afternoon BBA social event almost four years ago. It is an understatement to say that membership in the Birmingham Bar has changed my life!