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Leila Watson was born and raised in southwestern Pennsylvania, attended college at the University of Wisconsin and earned a BS in social work and psychology.  She attended law school at the University of Maryland, and upon graduating, was a law clerk to Associate Justice Janie L. Shores of the Alabama Supreme Court.  Since 1984, she has been practicing law with Ernie Cory, and they are the founding shareholders of Cory Watson Attorneys - exclusively representing people and businesses who have been harmed by the wrongful conduct of others and seek redress for their damages in courts throughout the country. 

Her law practice and bar activities have always filled her calendar.  She is a member of the Birmingham Bar Association and served as president in 2017.  She is a board member of the Birmingham Bar Foundation and served in 2016 on the board of the Volunteer Lawyers of Birmingham.  She is a sustaining member of the Alabama Association for Justice, serving on the Executive Committee for many years, and chairing the Amicus Curiae Brief Committee from 2010 - 2016.  She is also a member of the American Association for Justice, the American Board of Trial Advocates, and American Bar Association.  The Alabama Supreme Court appointed her to the Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions Committee – Civil in 1998, and she is a current member of the board and secretary of the Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions Committee – Civil, an Alabama nonprofit corporation that publishes civil jury instructions for use in Alabama’s circuit courts.  She mentors new lawyers through the Birmingham Bar Association and independently. 

Many years ago, her husband and she very intentionally targeted charitable efforts that are focused on children and education, culture, and programs that make Alabama a better place to live.  Of the community work that she has performed, the things of which she is the most proud are:  She was her daughter’s Brownie troop leader for two years (her daughter is now 24 years old).  She has been the pro bono lawyer for the Komen Race For The Cure for many years. She served on the board of Childcare Resources from 2007-2012.  She is a 2017 graduate of Leadership Birmingham.  She is a member of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance Pre-K Task Force (2012 – present) and she has been on the board at Studio By The Tracks since 2011. 

Why have you decided to serve as a Torchbearer for the JLB?
I am doing this because Robert Baugh, for whom I have great respect, asked me to do this, and I do not think he would invite me to engage in a program that did not make Birmingham better.  I researched One Place to make certain that its goals match the values and targets that my husband and I set for ourselves and our children, and satisfied myself that One Place makes Birmingham a better place for families and children and does justifce.

What/who inspires you to be a Light in our community?
I was not born or raised here, but Birmingham is now my home.  My husband is from Talladega and his extended family remains in Alabama.  Our children were born, raised and educated in Birmingham; they went to college overseas and chose to return to Alabama, and I believe, will remain in Alabama, and particularly, in Birmingham.  I am investing in Alabama.  Culture, education, security for children and families, good government, justice and equality – all the things that every person values highly do not just happen.  I have been blessed to be put in a position where I can work to bring these things to my friends, neighbors, family and community, and I believe that is what I must do.  The rising tide lifts all boats.  What is good for Birmingham is good for me.


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