Heyl Royster

Brian Smith

Champaign, IL

Joined Firm in 2007

Brian Smith is a leading employment lawyer, qualified to handle employment matters ranging from proactive counseling to trial.

  • Employment & Labor Practice Chair
  • University of Illinois School of Law Graduate, Order of the Coif, summa cum laude
Read Full Bio

Brian Smith

Attorney in Champaign, IL

While living in a fast-paced, changing, and stressful world, Brian's objective is to remove some of that stress from his clients' lives. For some, that is providing legal guidance on difficult human resources questions that come up from time to time. For others, it is meticulously defending a lawsuit so his client can focus on running their business. Each client and case are unique. Brian enjoys teaming together with his clients to find a tailored resolution to their problems and concerns.

Brian is a Shareholder in our Champaign office and Chair of the firm's Employment & Labor Practice, working with employers throughout Illinois. He provides guidance and training to employers on best practices and how to navigate the ever-changing employment landscape. Brian has extensive experience defending employers, including educational institutions, in federal and state courts and administrative proceedings before the EEOC and IDHR. He represents employers on disciplinary actions, discrimination claims, terminations, wage-and-hour issues, restrictive covenants, employment agreements, BIPA claims, COVID-19-related discrimination claims, and various leave issues. When complaints are filed, Brian is there to defend employers through administrative proceedings and lawsuits. He teams with his clients to guide them through the process, understand their goals, and assess the best way to achieve them early.

Brian has additional experience and represents clients in commercial litigation relating to contract, agribusiness, and construction disputes and defends government and law-enforcement officials in employment law matters and civil rights cases.



J.D., University of Illinois College of Law, summa cum laude, Order of the Coif

B.A., University of Illinois, Political Science and Portuguese

Licensure(s) and Admission(s)

State Courts of Illinois

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois

United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

Professional Affiliations

Champaign County Bar Association

Defense Research Institute

Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel

Illinois State Bar Association

National Association of College and University Attorneys


  • 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, 11-CV-02079, 2014 WL 12738111 (C.D. Ill. Jan. 15, 2014) – 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.
  • United States v. Zabka, 900 F. Supp. 2d 864 (C.D. Ill. 2012) – 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 the 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.



The Gray Zone Between Workers’ Compensation Law and Employment Law,” Heyl Royster's 34th Annual Claims Handling Seminar (2023)

“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’s Employer Road Map for 2016: Avoiding Legal Potholes Seminar (2015)

“Medical Cannabis & Concealed Carry,” Springfield Chamber of Commerce (2015)

“Investigations,” Heyl Royster’s How to Protect Your Company/Minimize Risks in the Workplace Seminar (2014)

“Medical Cannabis: A Primer for Employers and Governmental Entities,” Heyl Royster Lunch & Learn Seminar/Webinar, (2014)


Jailhouse Lawyers, Retaliation, and Access to the Courts,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2022)

Thompson v. Cope: A Victory for State Actor Medical Providers in a Landscape of Eroding Immunities,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2018)

"Stays and Appeal Bonds," chapter in Illinois Civil Appeals: State and Federal, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2015) & (2018)

"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)

"Seventh Circuit Issues Significant Opinions Regarding Malicious Prosecution and Qualified Immunity," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2015)

"Does It Relate Back? Substituting Individuals for Fictitious Defendants after the Statute of Limitations Has Expired," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2014)

"Survey of Illinois Law: Employment Law," Southern Illinois University Law Journal (2010)


  • Emerging Lawyer by Law Bulletin Media℠, 2015 – 2018
  • Super Lawyer Rising Star by Super Lawyers®, 2012 - 2017
  • Leading Lawyer by Law Bulletin Media
© 2024 Heyl Royster. All Rights Reserved.