Leila Hirayama Watson

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Leila Watson has dedicated her life to helping people through the law. It began when she was a young, aspiring social worker 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 more to help that little boy and others like him, than she could do in her career as a social worker. At that moment, Leila decided to go to law school.

Leila Watson has practiced with Ernie Cory, co-founder of Cory Watson Attorneys, for 32 years. 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 well-known for taking 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.

Ernie Cory convinced her as a young lawyer to handle cases on subjects she knew nothing about: “it’s not what you don’t know, it’s all about what you can learn.” So, she 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 present her cases at trial.

Leila’s legal skills and passion for studying the law are recognized by her colleagues. She was appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court to the Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions Committee—Civil in 1998. This Committee is rewriting the civil jury instructions in plain language to make the instructions understandable to lay persons. She has been appointed the chair of the Alabama Association for Justice Amicus Curiae Brief Committee for years, responsible for steering the committee that selects and writes appellate briefs on issues of importance to ALAJ members. In 2015, Leila was elected President-Elect of the Birmingham Bar Association.

While Leila is a passionate and dedicated lawyer, she is also a family-oriented woman who loves to volunteer. She and her family are very 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.

Leila approaches her life at home and at the office with this simple quote:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -Dr. Seuss

Birmingham Business Journal, Top 40 Under 40 All-Stars: The Ultimate Top 40 Class
Birmingham Bar Association, President-Elect, 2016
Best Lawyers in America, 2008-2014, 2016
Super Lawyers, 2008-2015
Super Lawyers, Top 50 Alabama Attorneys
Super Lawyers, Top 25 Women Attorneys in Alabama, 2015
Avvo Top Women Attorneys, 2015
B-Metro Women Attorneys to Watch, 2015
Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions Committee- Civil, Member, appointed 1998
Alabama Association for Justice, Champion of Justice, January 2008
Birmingham Business Journal, Top Birmingham Women, 2009
AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated Martindale-Hubbell
The Supreme Court of Alabama, Law Clerk to Associate Justice Janie L. Shores, 1983-1984

Law Clerk to the Hon. Janie Shores, Alabama Supreme Court. Co-Author, with Leila H. Watson, "The Plain English," Project of the Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions Committee - Civil, 69 Ala. Law 369, September 2007. Member, Civil Committee, Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions, 1997—.

Areas of Practice (10)

  • Construction Law
  • Consumer Protection
  • Highway & Building Design
  • Litigation & Appeals
  • Mass Torts
  • Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
  • Pharmaceutical Litigation
  • Products Liability Law
  • Toxic Torts
  • Class Actions

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
205-403-5431  Phone
(205) 324-7896  Fax
Mailing Address:
Birmingham, AL 35205
University Attended:
University of Wisconsin, B.S.W., 1979
Law School Attended:
University of Maryland, J.D., 1983
Year of First Admission:
United States District Court for the District of Nebraska; United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama; U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska; U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama; U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama; 1984, Alabama; United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Birmingham Bar Association, President-Elect, 2016
Alabama Association for Justice, Member, Executive Committee, Chair of Amicus Brief Committee
American Association for Justice, STEP
American Board of Trial Advocates
Birth Information:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 3, 1957
Reported Cases:
Allan v. Bayer Corp., 460 F.3d 1217 (9th Cir. 2006).
Hobbies & interests:
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENTAlabama School Readiness Alliance Pre-K Task ForceStudio by the TracksSusan G. Komen® North Central AlabamaLeadership Birmingham 2016-2017Childcare Resources (2007-2012)
Payment Information:
  • Free Initial Consultation
  • Minority - Owned

Peer Reviews

Birmingham, Alabama

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