HUNTINGTON – Melissa Foster Bird, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, recently received the firm’s Sara Turnipseed Women on the Go award, which recognizes individual contributions to the promotion of opportunity and success for female attorneys.
“I hope that the other women, especially the young women,
see that it is possible that you can be a successful lawyer, mother, friend and
member of society and enjoy every minute of it,” Foster Bird told The West Virginia Record.
Foster Bird said she was “raised by a mother that wasn’t
vocal about things like equality and feminism – but she lived them every day.” She
said her mother was a mostly uneducated woman who, by hard work and persistence,
held a job that required a degree and additional training.
A single mother to two children, Foster Bird said her mother
was constantly enriching herself with classes.
“She was the epitome of a woman on the go,” Foster Bird
said. “I think I practice law and live my life in a strong, happy on-the-go
way, just like my mom did.”
In addition, Foster Bird said she tries to promote the
success of women lawyers by being an example of commitment to her clients and work,
as well as her kids and family, “and doing it because I want to.”
Foster Bird said she also tries to promote the success of
women lawyers by showing them how they can use the traits that are
stereotypically female to their advantage.
“A woman can be perceived as softer – use that to your
advantage to represent big industrial clients; a woman can be underestimated in
a traditionally male field – use that to your advantage; a woman can ask
questions of witnesses that may be tougher for men – use that to your
advantage,” she said. “My advice to young lawyers, women and men, is lose the
chip on your shoulder, learn to work within the system that you are handed but
continue to work to change it for the good.”
Foster Bird is a divorced mother of two children, Luke and
Winnie, who loves “Ohio State football, cooking and working out in the gym.”
Professionally, Foster Bird said she does all trial work and
litigation for large corporations and small businesses. She received a Bachelor
of Science degree from Miami University and a juris doctor from The Ohio State
Marc E. Williams, who is managing partner of the firm's Huntington office, said Foster Bird “is a dynamic leader in the firm
and a diligent champion for our women lawyers.”
“She has been instrumental in advancing the recruitment of
women into all of our offices, and has been a vocal advocate for the advancement
of women into leadership,” Williams told The Record. “By promoting the hiring, retention and
advancement of female lawyers, Melissa is bringing the type of leadership that
our clients demand of their law firms.”
The Women on the Go award honors the late Nelson Mullins
partner, Sara Turnipseed, and her tireless commitment to issues of gender
equity and the promotion of opportunities for women in the legal profession, according
to a firm statement.