Heyl Royster

Brian Smith

Practice Groups:

Employment & Labor

Civil Rights Litigation/Section 1983 & Correctional Healthcare


Business and Commercial Litigation

Creditors’ Rights and Bankruptcy

Office Locations:

Champaign, IL

Phone: 217.344.0060

Email Me


United States Supreme Court Decisions on OSHA and CMS Rules - 01/18/2022

OSHA Issues Covid-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS - 11/05/2021

60 Heyl Royster Attorneys Top 2021 Leading Lawyers List - 08/04/2021

67 Heyl Royster Attorneys Top 2020 Leading Lawyers List - 07/30/2020

DOL Issues New FFCRA Regulations - 03/31/2020

The Illinois Executive “Stay at Home” Order and Its Impact on Employers - 03/24/2020

Employer Guidelines for Today's Workplace & the Coronavirus/COVID-19 - 03/20/2020

Families First Coronavirus Response Act - 03/19/2020

64 Heyl Royster Attorneys Top 2019 Leading Lawyers’ List - 06/28/2019

Attorneys Author IDC Quarterly Articles - 02/15/2019

Appellate Victory for Coles County - 10/16/2018

Attorneys Author Chapters in IICLE’s Illinois Civil Appeals: State and Federal - 08/02/2018

79 Heyl Royster Attorneys Top Leading Lawyers’ Latest List - 05/31/2018

60 Heyl Royster Attorneys on Leading Lawyers’ Latest List - 06/29/2017

24 Heyl Royster Attorneys Selected as 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers - 03/10/2017

Eight Heyl Royster Attorneys Featured in Recent IDC Quarterly Publication - 06/06/2016

57 Heyl Royster Attorneys Recognized by Leading Lawyers - 04/22/2016

26 Heyl Royster Attorneys Selected as 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers - 02/05/2016

Heyl Royster Announces Four New Partners, Plus Two New Attorneys - 01/05/2016

Eleven Attorneys Honored as "Emerging Lawyers" - 07/31/2015

Eight Attorneys Author IDC Quarterly Articles - 03/05/2015

27 Heyl Royster Attorneys Selected as Super Lawyers - 02/20/2015

Peterson and Smith Win Grain Contract Case - 02/19/2015

Heyl Royster Attorneys Author Articles for IDC Quarterly - 04/18/2014

26 Heyl Royster Attorneys Selected as Super Lawyers - 02/21/2014

25 Heyl Royster Attorneys Selected as Super Lawyers - 01/31/2013

Seven from Urbana Office Participate in Illinois Marathon 5K Race - 06/01/2012


  • Juris Doctor (summa cum laude), Order of the Coif, University of Illinois College of Law, 2007
  • Bachelor of Arts-Political Science and Portuguese, University of Illinois, 1999 

Year Joined Firm




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Heyl Royster



Brian Smith (Shareholder)


Brian concentrates his practice in the areas of employment law, civil rights, education law and commercial litigation. He is Chair of the firm’s Employment & Labor Practice and he has extensive experience defending employers, including educational institutions, in federal and state courts, and administrative proceedings before the EEOC and IDHR. Brian’s experience representing employers encompasses disciplinary actions, discrimination claims, terminations, wage-and-hour issues, restrictive covenants, employment agreements, and various leave issues. Brian has also represented businesses in commercial litigation relating to contract, agribusiness, and construction disputes. 

Brian’s practice also entails defending government and law-enforcement officials and medical professionals in cases alleging violations of constitutional rights. He has also defended clients in tort litigation, including cases arising from automobile and commercial trucking accidents.

Brian received his law degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Illinois College of Law. Prior to law school, he worked in campus ministry, where his duties included management of staff and volunteers. During law school, he was a teaching assistant at the University of Illinois College of Law and a member of the University of Illinois Law Review. Brian has also been a guest presenter at the University of Illinois College of Law's Trial Advocacy class.

Significant Cases

  • Topflight Grain Coop. v. RJW Williams Farms, Inc. - We prevailed at trial on behalf of a local grain company.  The grain company sought to compel a farmer to arbitrate a contract for the sale and delivery of corn. The farmer disputed the existence of the contract. The court concluded that a valid contract, which included a written arbitration provision, existed and compelled the farmer to arbitrate the dispute.
  • United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. Roth - Acting as one of the attorneys for the federal court appointed Receiver in a case arising from a $16.5 million dollar securities fraud case.
  • U.S. v. Zabka - Acting as attorney for the federal court appointed Receiver in a federal tax case.
  • Bond v. Atkinson - We represented law enforcement officials in a civil rights lawsuit where plaintiff contended that the defendants violated her constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by treating requests from victims of domestic violence with less priority than other crimes, and failing to remove guns from her home without a court order. The federal claims were dismissed.


  • “Jailhouse Lawyers, Retaliation, and Access to the Courts,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2022) - Read Article
  • Thompson v. Cope: A Victory for State Actor Medical Providers in a Landscape of Eroding Immunities,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2018) - Download Article
  • "Stays and Appeal Bonds" chapter in Illinois Civil Appeals: State and Federal, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2015, 2018) - Read Excerpt
  • "Internal Investigations, Criminal Prosecution and Civil Rights Lawsuits: A Brief Review of the Constitutional Questions Raised for Citizens and Officers," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2016) - Download Article
  • "Seventh Circuit Issues Significant Opinions Regarding Malicious Prosecution and Qualified Immunity," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2015) - Download Article
  • "Does It Relate Back? Substituting Individuals for Fictitious Defendants after the Statute of Limitations Has Expired," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2014) – Download Article
  • "Survey of Illinois Law: Employment Law," Southern Illinois University Law Journal (2010) - Download Article

Public Speaking

  • “Covid-19 Vaccine and Township Employees: Can it be Mandated?”
    Township of Illinois 2021
  • “COVID-19 Employment Issues”
    Illinois Association of County Board Members 2020
  • “Retaliation in the Workplace: State and Federal Claims”
    Heyl Royster Employers' Day Seminar 2016
  • “Alternative Dispute Resolution – ‘Using mediation or arbitration early to avoid lawsuits later.’”
    Heyl Royster “Avoiding Litigation” Seminar 2016
  • “Body Worn Cameras and the Future of Excessive Force Litigation”
    Heyl Royster's 31st Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2016
  • “Compliance with Wage and Labor Laws for Vacation and Overtime Pay”
    Heyl Royster Seminar "Employer Road Map for 2016: Avoiding Legal Potholes" 2015
  • “Medical Cannabis & Concealed Carry”
    Springfield Chamber of Commerce 2015
  • “Investigations”
    Heyl Royster Seminar "How to Protect Your Company/Minimize Risks in the Workplace" 2014
  • “Medical Cannabis: A Primer For Employers and Governmental Entities”
    Heyl Royster Lunch & Learn Seminar/Webinar 2014

Professional Recognition

  • Selected as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois. Only five percent of lawyers in the state are named as Leading Lawyers.
  • Named to Law Bulletin Publishing Company's list of Illinois Emerging Lawyers (2015-2018). Only two percent of Illinois lawyers under the age of 40 or who have been licensed to practice for 10 years or less earn this distinction.
  • Named to the Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars list (2012-2017). The Super Lawyers Rising Stars selection process is based on peer recognition and professional achievement. Only 2.5 percent of Illinois lawyers under the age of 40 or who have been practicing 10 years or less earn this designation.

Professional Associations

  • National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Champaign County Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute

Court Admissions

  • State Courts of Illinois
  • United States District Court, Central and Southern Districts of Illinois
  • United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit