Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Righi Fitch Law Group trial attorney Linda Tivorsak Bird to discuss her life and career.
AALM: What drew you to a career in the law?
LTB: I was a history major in college and was particularly interested in learning about periods of time where certain groups of people were treated differently than others. I did my senior essay on the Scottsboro boys, a case out of Alabama in which nine black teenagers were accused of raping two white women in 1931. The way the boys were treated by the community and the law piqued my interest in the legal system.
AALM: Tell us a little about your philosophy when it comes to your practice. Do you have a personal motto?
LTB: My philosophy is pretty simple — I want to help people. I think lawyers sometimes get a bad reputation, but overall, I think a lot of what we do is basically use our education, experience, and resources to help people and companies solve, prevent, or address problems.
AALM: Tell us about one of the most important lessons you learned from a personal or professional mentor.
LTB: One of the most important lessons that I learned, and continue to live by, is to never be afraid to ask for help. I don’t think there is any shame in admitting that you need help or you don’t know everything. That’s how we learn and grow as attorneys.
AALM: What is the most important lesson your parents taught you?
LTB: My parents always reminded us that “if you do good, good things will happen.” I try and remember that in my daily life and in my dealings with people, no matter how nasty or rude they are; no matter their background; and no matter what they might be accused of doing — always try and be kind and respectful and do good.
AALM: How is your practice today different from how you envisioned it in law school?
LTB: I was open to anything coming out of law school — the only practical experience I had during law school was criminal law — handling misdemeanor cases as an intern at the District Attorney’s office. I moved to Arizona and the only contact I had was doing criminal work, but on the defense side. I never guessed that I would enjoy defending people charged with crimes, but it was great fit for me personally, and I ultimately think that defense work — both civil or criminal — forces you to be more creative and think outside the box in order to successfully advocate for your clients.
AALM: What drew you to your current firm?
LTB: I want to be part of a firm that invests in its attorneys, is growing and evolving, and a firm that readily adapts and responds to the changing needs of their clients and the economic landscape. I believe that Righi Fitch offers all of those things and more, as well as being well-respected and known with a solid reputation in the legal community!
AALM: How would you describe the culture of your firm?
LTB: I just started there, but with a lot of people working at home with COVID-19, it’s been a little weird. I have not met everyone in person, and a lot of communication is through phone or email for now. Even so, everyone has been very welcoming and friendly, and I look forward to one day meeting all my new coworkers in person!
AALM: Tell us about a single case that has significantly impacted you personally or professionally?
LTB: There isn’t one case that I can think of, but the first year at the Public Defender’s Office changed my view of the legal system. I was extremely naive when I started, and after representing hundreds of people charged with crimes, I realized that there probably more good people who make bad decisions than most people think, but there are also plenty of people who are eager to manipulate the system if they had the opportunity to do so. No one is perfect, but I still believe overall, that most people are good or have good in them.
AALM: As technology changes the practice of law, how are you adapting? Do you believe these changes are good or detrimental?
LTB: I try to keep up with the latest technology by reading or watching the news, and seeing what people are using around me so I feel somewhat familiar with what’s out there. I think it is good in several ways (tracking people or vehicles, photographic evidence, a record of communications, etc.), but there is always a challenge in making sure that it is accurate and not manipulated or altered in any way.
AALM: What are some of the challenges you see negatively impacting the judicial system?
LTB: I wish there was a way that we can try cases without worrying about the cost of trial. I know that’s not realistic, but I think that a lot of people — including myself — get frustrated with the legal system because an out-of-court settlement might not necessarily be the “right” result or what the client really wanted in the end.
AALM: Tell us about an event that changed your perspective on the practice of law or your approach to life.
LTB: My father passed away in the summer of 2017. I spent about a month with him before and was thankful for the time that I got with him. He knew his time was limited, and when he was in the hospital, he would talk to the nurses that he lived a good life, worked hard, fulfilled his goal of traveling to all seven continents, had a great family, and there was nothing else that he wanted to do (he did not have a “bucket list”). I realized that at the end of the day, that was what mattered — to live a fulfilling and balanced life — because no one ever looks back and says, “I wish I worked more.”
AALM: Tell us about your ambitions for your career.
LTB: I just started with Righi Fitch, so I am hoping it’s a great long-term fit for me to grow and further my career as an attorney, become a partner, and help grow the firm!
AALM: What are you most proud of professionally and personally?
LTB: I am proud of the type of work that I do — I think that as defense lawyers, we help people and businesses through the legal system when they are faced with tough or difficult situations. It’s not always the easiest or most friendly system to be in, but I like to think that we, as lawyers, try to make it as painless as possible! I am also very proud of my entire family and all that we have accomplished — we all worked hard for what we have and despite our successes and experiences, we have always been humble and modest.
AALM: Tell us about your life outside the law.
LTB: I’m a big believer in having a good work-life balance. I think it makes you more balanced, and having things to do outside of work helps clear your head before or after a long day. I have a little one and he’s keeping me pretty busy. I have also always been very active and was a swimmer from the time I was very young through college. I started running in law school, then started doing marathons, and a few years ago, long distance (Ironman and half-Ironman) triathlons. I try to do some form of exercise every day. It’s a bit more challenging now, but I still find a way to fit in something.
AALM: Tell us about your community involvement.
LTB: Other than work, family, and exercise, I don’t have a whole lot of extra time, but I have volunteered to interview prospective students who are applying to both my high school (Phillips Exeter Academy) and college (Yale). I loved my time at both places, and always love meeting other students who want to go to school on the East coast since it’s not as common here! I am also involved with the Yale Club of Phoenix — the alumni association here.
AALM: At the end of the day, what makes you happiest professionally and personally?
LTB: At the end of the day, if I and everyone around me are all happy and healthy, I am happy. It sounds a bit cliche, but I want to enjoy the day and feel content with life. If I have a healthy and happy family, a fulfilling job, and I’m in good health — I have no complaints. It can always be worse!