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ABC News Hires HLN’s Ryan Smith As Legal Correspondent

A strike back of sorts against CNN after departure of "Nightline" co-anchor Bill Weir?

After losing a “Nightline” anchor to CNN, ABC News has lured Ryan Smith away from the Time Warner outlet’s sister operation, HLN.

ABC News said Smith, formerly the anchor of HLN’s now-canceled “Evening Express,” is joining ABC News as a New York-based correspondent, and will specialize in offering legal analysis, both for ABC and sister operation ESPN. Dan Abrams, the new unit’s chief legal correspondent and co-anchor of “Nightline,” retains his current duties, ABC News President Ben Sherwood said in a memo Wednesday.

Smith is slated to start his new job in January, Sherwood said.

The move shows ABC News in fighting spirit after CNN snatched away another “Nightline” co-anchor, Bill Weir. CNN said in October that Weir would serve as “chief innovation correspondent” and also work with producers to develop new programming. There has been some speculation that Weir could be up for some sort of berth in that network’s primetime schedule.

Smith has had some reason to look elsewhere. Under an ongoing reorganization effort spearheaded by new HLN boss Albie Hecht, a former Viacom entertainment-programming executive, HLN has rejiggered its primetime lineup, with Smith’s “Evening Express” out of favor. Smith also hosted “HLN After Dark,” and had been expected to remain with the network.

Before hosting “Evening Express,” Smith was part of the team on HLN’s flagship morning program, “Morning Express with Robin Meade.” He also hosted “In Session” on truTV.

Smith has  reported on stories including last year’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Super Storm Sandy and the 2013 Presidential Inauguration.  He has  also covered s high-profile trials  including those of Casey Anthony, Conrad Murray, George Zimmerman and Jodi Arias.

Smith graduated from Syracuse University with a B.A in Political Science. After earning a law degree from Columbia University, he worked as a lawyer for the NFL’S Jacksonville Jaguars and practiced corporate, sports and entertainment law for years at  firms in New York.

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