Foster Bird encourages young lawyers to 'work within the system' to make positive change

By Carrie Salls | Mar 10, 2017

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.


Melissa Foster Bird  

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 University.


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.

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