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S. Shay Samples

Trial Lawyer

Shay grew up in a small town in eastern Alabama, and has been practicing law for more than 40 years. After establishing his career as a trial lawyer at another prominent firm, Shay came to Hare Wynn as a full partner in 1994.

In all his years of practice, Shay has tried hundreds of complex jury trials throughout Alabama, both in state and federal courts. Although he has handled cases involving most areas of civil trial litigation and tort liability, he has dedicated his practice primarily to the representation of individuals’ families of medical malpractice and healthcare negligence. Shay has been the recipient of numerous record million/multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements throughout Alabama.

For Shay, the personal relationship he develops with his clients is just as important as their professional relationship, and he believes that gaining his clients’ trust and friendship ultimately helps him serve their needs even better.

Shay is deeply dedicated to serving the Birmingham community. For years, he has volunteered alongside his wife at The Red Barn, which provides equestrian therapy for special needs children as well as military veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Shay worked his way through college and law school. He attended Alexander City Junior College where he was elected president of the Student Government Association and was named the “Most Outstanding Student.” He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1973 and received his law degree in 1976 from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

  • University of Alabama, 1973
  • Cumberland School of Law, 1976

In all his years of practice, Shay has tried hundreds of complex jury trials throughout Alabama, both in state and federal courts. Shay has been the recipient of numerous record million/multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements throughout Alabama.

During more than forty years of practice, Shay has received more than twenty seven figure jury verdicts.

  • Alabama, 1976
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
  • United States Court of Federal Claims
  • Alabama Association for Justice
  • Alabama Law Foundation
  • American Association for Justice
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • American College of Trial Lawyers
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers
  • Southern Trial Lawyers Association
  • American Trial Lawyers Association
  • National Trial Lawyers Association

Shay has been an active member in numerous Bar associations. He has served the Birmingham Bar Association as a member of the following committees: Grievance and Disciplinary, Executive, Civil Courts, Judicial Liaison, Nominating, Public Relations, and Medical Liaison. He was elected President of the BBA in 2000. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society and the Birmingham Bar Foundation. In 2012, he was inducted as a Fellow in the inaugural class of Fellows of the BBF. He has also been inducted as a Fellow in the Alabama Law Foundation, where membership is restricted to only 1% of the lawyers in the State. In 2015, Shay was inducted as a LIFE Fellow of the Birmingham Bar Foundation.

He is a member of the Alabama Association for Justice, the American Association for Justice and the American Bar Association. He is also a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, a select invitation-only, group of trial lawyers limited to the top 1 percent of trial lawyers in the United States. He served on the state committee of the ACTL in 2015-2016. Shay has also been inducted as a Fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (limited to 500 members worldwide). He has been selected by his peers as one of the Best Lawyers in America® since 1999. In 2011, Best Lawyers® named him Birmingham “Medical Malpractice Lawyer of the Year”.

In 2013, he was named Birmingham “Lawyer of the Year – Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs.” In 2015, Best Lawyers® named him Birmingham “Lawyer of the Year – Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs” for an unprecedented third time in five years. Shay has also been named Best Lawyers® 2016 – Birmingham Personal Injury Litigation Plaintiffs “Lawyer of the Year.” He is listed in Best Lawyers® in the categories of personal injury, litigation, medical malpractice law- plaintiffs and bet-the-company litigation. He has been included in Alabama Super Lawyers® as one of the top attorneys in Alabama since it’s inception in 2008 and every year thereafter.

Most recently, Shay was chosen to the 2018 Mid-South Super Lawyers® listing for attaining significant victories in the practice area of medical malpractice. The (2019)Benchmark State Litigation Stars award was once again given to him in late 2018 as well, recognizing him as an outstanding medical malpractice lawyer.

For more than 20 years, he has received an AV® Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, the highest rating attainable, based on recognition of an attorney’s legal ability and ethics. He has also been selected as an Advocate in the American Board of Trial Advocates, having served as President of the Alabama Chapter in 2003. He is also a Fellow of the Roscoe Pound Institute and Fellow in the International Society of Lawyers for Public Service. He was recently selected by LawDragon as one of the top litigators in America. In addition, Shay has been recognized by Benchmark as one of the leading litigators in America. He is also a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the National Trial Lawyers Association (both top 100 trial lawyers). Shay is listed in Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who among Executives and Professionals, and Who’s Who in the World. He is also a Senior Counsel Member of The College of Master Advocates & Barristers and has been selected for inclusion into the National Association of Distinguished Counsel, another professional group of trial lawyers comprising less than 1 percent of lawyers in the U.S. In 2019, he was recognized as B-Metro Top Flight Attorney.