Leila H. Watson has dedicated her life to helping people through the law. It began when she was a social work student on a clinical team that evaluated children with developmental, physical, and mental disabilities. The mother of a little boy who was a patient at the clinic gave Leila a legal brief about her son. After reading the brief, she knew that the lawyer who wrote it was doing much more to help that little boy than she could ever do in her career as a social worker. At that moment, Leila decided to go to law school.
Leila Watson has practiced with Ernest Cory, co-founder of Cory Watson Attorneys, for over 36 years. As a young lawyer, Cory convinced her to handle cases on subjects she knew nothing about, saying, “It’s not what you don’t know, it’s all about what you can learn.” So, Leila learned things like how to drive a tractor-trailer truck, set up a fuse box, maintain a hospital record, sell life insurance, and a host of other skills to better present her cases at trial.
She has worked on precedent-setting cases with state and national implications. Leila represented Jett Williams and proved that Jett is the natural daughter of famous singer and songwriter, Hank Williams, Sr., and in the process, updated Alabama law so no other heir would have to shoulder the burden of finding their inheritance on their own. Leila also obtained the first double-digit, million-dollar wrongful death verdict in Alabama – $15,000,000.
Not only has Leila worked on big cases, she is also known for taking the time to negotiate car accident cases, probate issues, municipal cases, and talking to people about whatever is disrupting their daily lives and finding solutions for them.
Leila’s legal skills and passion for studying the law are well-recognized by her colleagues. In 2016, Leila was elected President of the Birmingham Bar Association. She served as the chair of the Alabama Association for Justice Amicus Curiae Brief Committee for years, steering the committee that selects and writes appellate briefs on issues of importance to ALAJ members. She was appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court to the Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions Civil Committee from 1998 to 2018, and serves as a director of the Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions – Civil, an Alabama Non-Profit Corporation. This Committee is rewriting the civil jury instructions in plain language to make the instructions more easily understood.
While Leila is a passionate and dedicated lawyer, she is also a family-oriented woman who loves to volunteer. She and her family are highly involved in the Birmingham community, supporting local charities that focus on children’s education and health and making Birmingham a great place to raise a family. Leila loves to cook and is always looking forward to her weekly Sunday night dinner with friends and family.
- Alabama State Bar
- The Supreme Court of the United States
- The Supreme Court of Alabama
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama
- U.S. District Court of Nebraska
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
- Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions Committee- Civil, 1998-2018
HONORS, AWARDS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated Martindale-Hubbell
- America’s Top 100 Attorneys®, Lifetime Achievement Member
- Best Lawyers® Personal Injury Litigation “Lawyer of the Year” in Birmingham, 2018
- Best Lawyers® Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions “Lawyer of the Year” in Birmingham, 2014
- Best Lawyers®, 2008-2019
- The Best Lawyers in America©, 2011-2020
- Birmingham Business Journal, Top 40 Under 40 All-Stars: The Ultimate Top 40 Class
- American Bar Foundation Fellow
- Birmingham Bar Foundation Life Fellow
- Super Lawyers, 2008-2020
- Super Lawyers, Top 50 Alabama Attorneys
- Super Lawyers, Top 10 Alabama Attorneys
- Super Lawyers, Top 25 Women Attorneys in Alabama
- Avvo Top Women Attorneys
- B-Metro Magazine, Top Women Attorneys, 2015-2019
- B-Metro Magazine, TopFlight Attorneys and Hall of Fame Honoree, 2019
- Alabama Association for Justice, Champion of Justice, January 2008
- Birmingham Business Journal, Top Birmingham Women
- The Supreme Court of Alabama, Law Clerk to Associate Justice Janie L. Shores, 1983-1984
- Birmingham Bar Association, President, 2017
- Birmingham Bar Foundation, Board Member
- Alabama Association for Justice, Executive Committee, Amicus Curiae Brief Committee Chair 2010-2016)
- American Association for Justice
- American Board of Trial Advocates
- Alabama School Readiness Alliance Pre-K Task Force (2012-present)
- Studio by the Tracks (2011-present)
- Susan G. Komen® North Central Alabama
- Leadership Birmingham (2016-2017)
- Childcare Resources (2007-2012)
- Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program
- Junior League of Birmingham Torch Bearer, 2018
- University of Maryland School of Law, J.D.
- University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, B.S.