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About me

Dawn Smith is a partner at Smith & Lake, LLC where she practices family and education law. She has represented children and families for over 24 years. Immediately prior to joining the firm, Dawn was a partner at one of Atlanta’s most prestigious family law firms. She also served as Deputy Director of Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation where she was responsible for administration of the city’s largest pro bono family law program. In this role, Dawn worked in partnership with the Judges of the Fulton County Family Court to provide trained Guardian ad Litems in contested custody matters. She has trained Guardian ad Litems throughout the state and has lectured on their role nationally. Dawn is frequently appointed by Courts to serve as Guardian ad Litem in family law cases. She also is a certified arbitrator and mediates family law cases.

In addition to her expertise in family law, Dawn is recognized as one of the leading advocates for the civil and educational rights of children with disabilities. She is the past President of the Board of Directors of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, the national membership organization for special education attorneys and advocates. She has pursued actions on behalf of children in state and federal trial courts as well as in the 11thCircuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Dawn is a frequent lecturer both nationally and locally on the rights of children. At the firm, Dawn provides quality legal services on behalf of children and lends her expertise in this area to all of our family law endeavors.  

Dawn began her career as Law Clerk to United States District Court Judge Marvin H. Shoob and subsequently was appointed Special Administrative Master for the Court. Dawn was also a partner in the firm Zimring & Smith LLC and was later appointed Administrative Law Judge for the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings. She is a 1985 graduate of North Carolina State University and a 1989 cum laud graduate of Georgia State University College of Law where she served as Style Editor on Georgia State Law Review.


Practice areas


  1. Child Custody: 40%
    26 years
  2. Divorce: 25%
    26 years
  3. Child Support: 15%
    26 years
  4. Education: 10%
    26 years
  5. Family: 10%
    26 years



Hourly ($350/hour), Retainer (always)

Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

1 total 

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  • Michael S. Waddington

    I endorse Dawn. She is a highly skilled attorney that is well respected in the legal community.


    Michael Waddington Military law Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

Contact info

Smith & Lake LLC

One West Court Square
Suite 410
Decatur, GA, 30030


GAActive Member in Good Standing 199008/05/2016
We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Legal Elite in Family LawGeorgia Trend Magazine2015
Founder's AwardCool Girls Inc2014
Super Lawyer in Family LawSuper Lawyers2014
Legal Elite in Family LawGeorgia Trend Magazine2014
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
PartnerSmith & Lake2013 - Present
PartnerBoyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle2010 - 2013
Deputy DirectorAtlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation2006 - 2010
Administrative Law JudgeGeorgia Office of State Administrative Hearings2005 - 2006
PartnerZimring & Smith2000 - 2005
AssociateZimring, Ellin & Miller1995 - 2000
Special Administrative MasterUnited States District Court Norther District of Georgia1992 - 1996
Law ClerkUnited States District Court Norther District of Georgia1989 - 1992
Association namePosition nameDuration
Fulton County Family Division Task ForceAppointed Task Force Member2014 - Present
Charles Longstreet Weltner Family Law American Inn of CourtBarrister2010 - Present
DeKalb County Bar Association, Family Law SectionMember2010 - Present
State Bar of Georgia, Family Law SectionMember2005 - Present
Atlanta Bar Association, Family Law SectionMember2005 - Present
Leadership AtlantaMember1996 - Present
Cool Girls IncFounder1989 - Present
Council of Parent Attorneys and AdvocatesPresident2010 - 2011
Council of Parent Attorneys and AdvocatesBoard Member2007 - 2013
Emmaus HouseAdvisory Board2006 - 2008
Episcopal Church of the EpiphanyVestry and Senior Warden2002 - 2005
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Georgia State University College of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1989
North Carolina State UniversityBusiness ManagementBA - Bachelor of Arts1985
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Tropical SeminarThe Impact of Cheating and Drinking in Family Law Cases2015
Georgia Superior Court Judges' Winter ConferenceSpecial Needs Children and Custody Cases2015
Georgia Superior Court Judges' Summer ConferenceSubstance Abuse and Parenting2015
American Family and Conciliation Courts ConferenceSubstance Abuse and Parenting2015
Pro Bono March MadnessGuardian ad Litem Training2014
Family Law InstituteSpecial Needs/Special Education in Custody and Support Cases – Lecturer 20142014
Annual ConferenceNew Attorney Training2014
Guardian ad Litem TrainingEthics and the Guardian ad Litem2013
Family Law InstituteFertile Ground - Cross Examination of Custody Evaluators2013
Annual ConferenceNew Attorney Training2013
TrainingLegal Issues for Families2012
Pro Bono March MadnessGuardian ad Litem Training2012
Nuts and Bolts of Family LawUse of Guardian ad Litem2012
Annual ConferenceNew Attorney training2012
Pro Bono March MadnessGuardian ad Litem Training2011
Annual ConferenceNew Attorney Training2011
Pro Bono March MadnessGuardian ad Litem Training2010
Pro Bono March MadnessGuardian ad Litem Training2009
Custody Evalautor trainingCustody Evaluator training2009
Pro Bono March MadnessGuardian ad Litem Training2008
Pro Bono March MadnessGuardian ad Litem Training2007