Tara R. Burd is a member of the Real Property Law Section’s Executive Committee and the Owner and Principal Attorney of T. Burd Law Group, APC, in San Diego. Since her practice opened in 2011, Tara has represented over 200 clients in over 300 legal matters and achieved a $7.4 million award in a breach of contract case. Recently, we interviewed Tara in her San Diego office.
Congratulations on your selection as an Executive Committee member for the Real Property Law Section. What made you interested in law in the first place?
In undergrad, I chose my major based upon what classes sounded interesting (and what time classes were held.) I ended up majoring in Criminal Justice Administration and really loved the law-related courses I took. In particular, my criminal law professor was an Assistant District Attorney at the time and required us to learn by reading case law. It was incredibly challenging, as any first-year lawyer knows, but I found myself motivated to struggle through it and learn. If I wasn’t an attorney, I’m really not sure what else I would do.
Tell us what your firm does.
My firm’s focus is on probate, trust and business litigation. As part of that I also handle probate administration and estate planning.
What are your favorite areas of law?
A lot of my cases are cross-overs that touch upon many different areas of law: probate, business, elder-abuse, fraudulent conveyance, landlord-tenant. I don’t think any one area of law is my favorite. What makes a case appealing is the story that comes from it.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
The biggest challenge is unpredictable judicial rulings. Probate has a relatively low amount of case law compared to other areas of practice in California. The problem with this is that whenever there is a complex or nuanced legal issue, there is rarely a case on point and much of the time there isn’t even a case that comes close to the issues I’m facing. It makes it very difficult to know how a judge will rule. In a perfect world, this would be an exciting opportunity to make new law. Unfortunately, there is not always enough money at issue to justify an appeal and, it’s particularly emotionally taxing on the clients who have already suffered the loss of a loved one. As someone who loves to figure out and apply the law, it’s very challenging to work out a legal problem only for the outcome to be left to the very broad discretion of a single judge.
Tell us about your favorite case or legal controversy of all time and what happened that made it so interesting?
I can’t pick a favorite. My first trial was a breach of contract dispute over an $85,000.00 Hermes Birken bag. How is that not interesting.
What do you do to help balance your life with work?
I love to work out at the Dailey Method, which is a version of the barre method. Exercise and deep breaths are two keys to sanity. Having understanding friends, family and colleagues to spend time and talk with is also imperative. I also love natural wines and am so excited that it’s rosé season. I’m stocking up so that it can be rosé season all year long at my house!
Tell us about your experience on the Real Property Section’s Executive Committee?
As of October 2016, I joined the Executive Committee. I began an annual networking event in San Diego, which brings together real property professionals including primarily, Realtors and real property attorneys. Additionally, I support and occasionally moderate MCLE courses which are offered on a regular basis in our area. In October 2017, I chaired the first Southern California Real Estate Symposium, which was held in Irvine. Its purpose was also to unite residential real property professionals. It consisted of three panels and keynote speaker, Wayne Bell, Real Estate Commissioner and Chief Officer of the California Bureau of Real Estate.
So far, what have you enjoyed most about being on the Executive Committee?
I am committed to the Real Property Law Section for a three-year term, during one of the most dynamic times in the California State Bar’s history. In early 2017, the State Bar’s Sections began the process of separating from the State Bar, which will continue to operate exclusively as a regulatory body. And by January 2018, the State Bar’s Sections transitioned to independent non-profit entities under the umbrella of the California Lawyers Association. As a member of the Executive Committee, I had the opportunity to participate in the transition and shape the new entity that has potential to be one of the largest attorney associations in the nation. The politics involved are trying. But the possibility of knowing that I was part of building an association that educates and supports our entire state’s legal community is immensely motivating.
What networking and educational events have you had a hand in coordinating?
I moderated and presented at the Real Property retreat the last two years and have lent a hand as necessary to promote or assist with check-in for the MCLEs in San Diego since mid-2016. I will also be presenting on Real Property Rights After Death at the CLA Conference in Fall 2018. Additionally, I moderated a panel and chaired the committee for the Inaugural RES [Real Estate Symposium] in Irvine last year. Finally, in June of this year, I was responsible for coordinating the third summer Real Property professionals networking mixer. I planned a couple Christmas parties as well.
What do you think we can do to improve what our group does for real estate attorneys across California?
We’re already doing it as part of the ongoing transition from State Bar entity to the independently-run CLA. We are building a bigger and better website, which will go a long way towards giving our members and future members access to all the benefits we offer. Our section already does amazing work by way of our educational programming and scholarly journals. Now, we just need to get that access out to attorneys and non-attorneys. I think that’s happening.
What two strategies have really paid off and helped your business grow over the years?
(1) A strong online presence. Both my website and Yelp reviews have significantly contributed to bringing in clients through non-referral sources. Successful Yelp advertising requires that you have good reviews and a good website to begin with. Yelp advertising helps to draw people to my firm, but then clients tell me that they called after reading positive reviews and/or my website.
(2) Networking. Networking is the gift that keeps giving. No matter how busy I get, I always make some time to have coffee or lunch with my existing network and with new potential referral partners. Those relationships generate more referrals which generate more referrals. In fact, my biggest case was a referral from my uncle to one of his best friends to an attorney he knew and then another attorney. It took a chain of 4 referrals before it led to paid business, but sometimes that’s just what it takes.
What advice would you give for new attorneys today who are trying to build their law firm to your level?
Do things correctly from the very beginning, work hard, and don’t give up. Also, it’s not for everyone. Starting a new practice is challenging and time consuming. It’s easy to try to cut corners in the name of efficiency or when you’re simply overwhelmed. But once you’re down that road, you don’t always remember what it was you were supposed to “go back and fix.” Suddenly, you’re drowning in legal work, but your accounts aren’t well organized, or your bills aren’t going out to clients on time. Implementing proper processes is essential. After that, it’s just about getting out there every day and putting in the time until it starts to pay off.
One’s network of physical and emotional support is also imperative. Litigation practice, in particular, is a roller coaster. I’ve had times where I was hit with discovery deadlines, statutory filing deadlines, depositions, and mediations all at once. The only way to get through it was to ask my colleagues for help. Initially, it was hard to sacrifice my own income to pay someone else. But, by doing so, I was able to keep my clients happy and cases moving forward. This resulted in more work and income in the future and improved working relationships.
Effective the first of this year, the RPLS Executive Committee replaced the Practice Area MCLE committees with a Geographic Area based MCLE/ Networking program. Our objective: to provide MCLE and networking events in five major urban areas in CA. RPLS Ex Com advisors Jeff Conner and Robert MCCormick are working to provide RPLS programs for our members in Sacramento. We now regularly present live MCLE programs in four major geographic areas, San Diego, Orange County, Los Angles and the Bay Area.
If you are in the Sacramento area and would like work with Jeff or Robert, organize programs or teach live MCLE programs or webinars in your area, please let me know. We encourage you to participate!
Thanks for helping to make RPLS MCLE and networking programs a reality in Sacramento.
Gary M. Laturno, Esq.
Co-Chair, Real Property Law Section
2018 Solo Small Firm Attorney of the Year:
On June 14, 2018 the CLA Real Property Law Section hosted its third annual Summer Soiree at the Loma Club in San Diego. This event was a huge success thanks to the hard work of our Executive Committee member, Tara Burd, and our generous sponsors. The evening offered libations ranging from wine tasting from South Coast Winery, whiskey tastings from Henebery, and gin and vodka tasting from You and Yours Distillery. Guests were entertained by guitarist Mark Fisher and had the thrill of capturing the night with hilarious photobooth photos. Heather Rosing, President of the CLA spoke about her aspirations for the CLA’s bright future, and Jim Hill, Chair of the CLA, discussed the benefits of section membership and participation. This event was an excellent opportunity to make new connections in the real estate industry and re-connect with existing friends and colleagues. #CLASummerSoiree #CLARealProperty
Volunteer Opening: The California Real Property Journal’s Editorial Board is seeking candidates for the position of Editor-in-Chief for one year 2018-2019 beginning September 2018. Candidates should have experience in editing legal articles, academic journals, and/or newsletters. The Editor-in-Chief has the final responsibility for the Journal’s operations and policies under the direction of the Real Property Section’s Executive Committee. The primary duties of the Editor-in-Chief are:
Contact: Christina R. Sansone, Interim Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of the California Real Property Journal, (818) 216-6664, CSansone@SansoneLawFirm.com.
John (J.R.) Richards
Would you like to be interviewed for our next E-bulletin and have attended an RPLS Event? Shoot me an e-mail. Let’s document your experience!
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