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Nikola Smith, 38

ASSOCIATE CITY ATTORNEY, KANSAS CITY

nikola-smithPractice areas: Civil litigation, collections
Law school: University of Missouri-Kansas City

When she was invited to speak at her daughter’s school for career day, Nikola Smith was worried the kids might get bored hearing about taxes and local government but she found her concerns were unfounded.
“They were super engaged and had a lot of really great questions,” she wrote. “They seemed really excited to have me there and my daughter seemed really proud of me.”
Her daughter isn’t alone. Smith has made a lot of people proud. En route to winning a “Distinguished Leadership Award for Excellence in Public Service,” she has represented the city in thousands of associate circuit state law cases, implemented a master case list system for matters in the collection litigation unit and collected more than $2.5 million in unpaid taxes on behalf of the city.
At work in the city attorney’s office since 2007, she was promoted to supervisor of the collections unit in 2013 and has also testified before the Missouri Senate’s Ways and Means Committee regarding her city’s earnings tax.
This year, Smith began work as an adjunct professor teaching associate circuit practice and procedure at her alma mater.

What advice do you have for young lawyers?
That it’s OK to be nervous (when you are in court). It’s normal to be nervous. It’s good to be nervous. I feel like if you are not (at least) a little bit nervous, then you’ve probably stopped caring about why you are there, and maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.

Anything else you want people to know about you?
I feel like so much of what I say, what I do and how I act in life is due to two concepts that I hold true: first, there is nothing that I am incapable of doing, as long as I am willing to work hard; and second, if I choose to do something/undertake something, I should do it to the best of my ability.

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