Interviews with NABL Members from NABL News
Jodie E. Smith, Maynard, Cooper, & Gale, PC, Birmingham, AL
Meet Jodie E. Smith, NABL’s President 2022-2023, of Maynard Cooper & Gale P.C. in Birmingham, AL. His life lesson, learned from a Maynard colleague, is also his career mantra: if you are facing an impossible situation, make a list. One list item at a time, chip away at the situation. One list item at a time, chip away at the situation. He attributes his personal and professional development to influencers throughout his career who embodied those values, as well as life experiences.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a shareholder in the Public Finance Group at Maynard Cooper & Gale, P.C., Birmingham, Alabama. I have over twenty-five years of experience and focus on tax-advantaged finance and securities transactions and on infrastructure transactions.
I grew up in Gadsden, Alabama, attended Birmingham-Southern College for my undergraduate studies, the University of Glasgow (Scotland) for graduate studies, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel for law school. I am married to Dorothy K. Smith and have two sons, Will (age 21) and Clark (age 20).
How did you first learn about NABL?
Early in my career, Hobby Presley, who served as NABL President from 2000 to 2001, encouraged me to join NABL and get involved as a way to give back.
How has volunteering on committees and being on the board of directors impacted your career?
Hobby’s advice to get involved in NABL was great advice because getting involved in NABL is the key that unlocks its value. I know I am a better bond lawyer because of NABL.
One question I often get is: “How do I get involved with NABL?” Let me offer a little “how to” here based on my own experience. When Hobby encouraged me to join NABL and get involved, I took his advice. I joined the Securities Law and Disclosure Committee and looked for an opportunity to volunteer on a project. Committee chair Bill Hirata gave me that opportunity when he let me take the lead on an SEC comment letter project. I got to work on that project not only with Bill but also with John McNally. I will always remember John taking the time to sit down with me at the NABL Institute in San Francisco to go through the draft comment letter to figure out how to improve it.
I also remember volunteering to speak on panels at NABL conferences and getting encouraged and coached by NABL stalwarts like Rick Weber; Rick, in particular, was always such a good example of how to prepare thoroughly for conference panels. You have to be on your game for these panels, as there are a lot of smart people in the audience.
These personal stories illustrate two related points. First, for those members who are not active in NABL, I encourage you to volunteer and do a good job because volunteering unlocks NABL’s value. Second, for those members who are active in NABL, I encourage you to take interest in new volunteers because they are the future of our organization; coach them, mentor them, and take time to get to know them.
What are your top goals this year as president?
According to its governance documents, “NABL exists to promote the importance and integrity of the municipal market by advancing the understanding of, and compliance with, the law[s] affecting public finance.” NABL’s mission can be boiled down to four (4) things we do well:
· NABL educates and informs its members and other members of the public finance community.
· NABL advocates for laws that make public finance better.
· NABL builds tools that make public finance better.
· NABL builds friendships and professional connections.
I expect to advance each of these purposes during my tenure as President of NABL.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received that you used in your career?
One of my Maynard Cooper & Gale law partners told me early in my career that, when you face an impossible situation, don’t become distressed. Instead, make a checklist, and chip away at the impossible situation one checklist item at a time. That seems like pretty good career (and even life) advice to me.
If you were not able to attend The Workshop 2022, read Jodie's Inaugural Speech.