Morris Bird
Attorney at Law

On every law firm website I’ve seen, it doesn’t really tell you about the attorneys. All they tell you is what an attorney has done. If you want to see what I’ve done and where I’ve been, take a look at my résumé or my LinkedIn profile. But in my experience, this is only part of the equation when it comes to deciding whether or not to work with an attorney. You must also know if they are the kind of person you want to work with. Let me tell you more about myself.

A long time ago in a state not too far away, I decided to become a lawyer. I was living in Tucson, Arizona and attending the University of Arizona. Tucson was home. I had lived in the area since I was 13 years old. Around the time my family moved to the Tucson area, on a hot Saturday afternoon while surfing between the 4 channels we had on TV, I stumbled upon the movie Raging Bull. I was mesmerized. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I was captivated by this amazing film. Also, during the year prior to moving to Arizona, a middle school art teacher named Mr. Meyer was very influential in helping me develop an appreciation for art. Between Mr. Meyer and Raging Bull, the seed was planted and I grew to love art generally, and film specifically. When at the University of Arizona I pursued these two passions by studying Media Arts and Art History.

One thing I discovered in college was that I was gifted with the ability to analyze and appreciate art. I was fascinated with history and apart from learning the arc of art history, I loved learning about who artists were and where they came from. In college, I also had the pleasure to assist a professor in the making of a documentary film about the training of correctional officers in Arizona. This was a long term project in which I worked alongside my professor in gathering and analyzing countless hours of documentary footage. What I learned from these experiences is that fascinating art is the result of inspiration, thought, devotion, and technical ability. The greatest artists in any medium—Michelangelo, Miles Davis, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, etc.—all possessed an abundance of artistic instinct, a calculating mind, work ethic, and technical mastery.

Not that I equate myself with any artistic masters, but taking stock of myself, I believed I had good instincts, work ethic, and limited technical ability (I’ve designed some furniture, for example). However, I wanted to more fully develop a calculating mind. To do this, I went to law school.

A few weeks before starting at Southwestern Law School, I moved to Los Angeles. When the U-Haul bumped it’s way into town with my wife and infant son following behind in our Honda Civic, I didn’t know a soul in the city. Moving here was a big leap of faith for my family. Upon entering law school, my goal was to ultimately work in the entertainment industry. I quickly discovered, however, that many subjects in law school were surprisingly fascinating. In particular, I enjoyed coursework on Property and Wills & Trusts. Thankfully, I happened to do very well in these courses. What attracted me to these areas of law was not just learning chapter and verse of the law, it was the stories of the people involved that fascinated me. Learning about people through this area of law offered me a glimpse into the most carefully thought out decisions people face in life. Unlike some other areas of law, this area of law has a direct impact on everyone in society. Relatively few people will need a criminal attorney, or an anti-trust attorney, and not everyone gets involved in lawsuits during their lifetime (thankfully), but everyone faces mortality. At some point, everyone thinks about the legacy they want to leave. Everyone has something, whether large or small, they want to pass on when they leave this life. Apart from my interest in art and film, the law of estates reached out and grabbed me.

Thanks to the help of a professor, during the Fall of my final year of law school, I was able to intern at Lionsgate. Recognizing the opportunity before me, I did all I could to make a great impression on the people I met during the internship. One of the perks of the internship was that on Friday I could select a movie from the video library to take home for the weekend. I often brought home a cartoon of Harold and the Purple Crayon for my young son, who practically wore out the DVD watching it. During my final semester of law school, I also interned at the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), which introduced me to the world of independent film licensing.

When I finished law school, my son was too young to understand what a job was. I explained that it was kind of like when I used to work at Lionsgate, the place where I would bring him home movies to watch. Aha! To his young, innocent mind, a job was a place where I could bring home movies for him to watch. Wanting to watch Harold and the Purple Crayon again, he said to me “Why don’t you get a job at Lionsgate so you can get Harold again?” His innocence was so sweet. How do you explain to a 3-year old that you cannot get a certain job just by wishing for it? But in his mind, it was this simple. Daddy needed to get a job at Lionsgate so I could bring him Harold to watch again. My son didn’t forget about this either. When we’d say our nightly prayers, he’d pray for it. “Please bless daddy to get a job at Lionsgate so I can watch Harold again.” This wasn’t a one time thing. It went on for months. His stamina was incredible. He wanted to watch Harold dangit! And to watch Harold, daddy needed a job at Lionsgate! And he wasn’t going to let it go!

The first phone call I made after taking the bar exam was to my old boss, the General Counsel at Lionsgate. He agreed to meet me for lunch. We got together and I picked his brain for advice on finding work. At the time, there was no opportunities at Lionsgate. His main piece of advice to me was, “You need to find something. You need to find anything.” Duh.

I had graduated law school. I had taken the bar exam. I wouldn’t get my results for a few more months. The only thing I had on the horizon was…nothing. I needed a job and was looking. Resumes went out. Phone calls were made. Job listings were scoured. I had nothing going on except stress. Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from the legal head of the international department at Lionsgate. “Hello, we have a new opening for an attorney in the international department and the General Counsel said you might be interested in applying.” Would I? YES!

I applied. I got the job. On my first Friday there, I brought home Harold and the Purple Crayon for my son to watch. It was truly miraculous.

I worked at Lionsgate several years. During my time there, I kept track of every deal I completed. I negotiated 1,158 agreements with 170 different distributors around the world. These were great years. I learned a lot. The people I worked with were wonderful. The busy season of the film markets was my favorite time of the year. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work.

And then change happened. My wife experienced a very difficult pregnancy. At the same time, my son needed open heart surgery. I was commuting long distance, spending a lot of time away from home, and as much as I loved Lionsgate, when I considered the importance of things happening in my life at home, I decided it was time to shift directions.

I began working for a law firm near home that practiced primarily in the area of trusts and estates. This was perfect. I was able to reunite with an area of law that I loved—estate planning and estate administration. Also, I was closer to home which allowed me to be there for my family during a difficult time. Learning the details of estate planning and administration and working in a law firm was an exciting challenge.

I missed working in the entertainment industry on a daily basis, but enjoyed the breadth of experience that the law firm provided. Apart from the estate planning and estate administration work at the law firm, I was able to gain valuable experience in probate, corporate law, civil litigation, and more. It was an honor to assist people in the process of creating an estate plan and to also help people sort out the often difficult legal entanglements that can be left when a loved one passes away. As much as I loved working in the entertainment industry at Lionsgate, I appreciated the gravity of assisting people while they made some of the most important decisions in life and while they dealt with the loss of loved ones.

A few years passed. My wife’s complicated pregnancy became a memory. My son’s heart surgery left only a neat scar. As my family began to regain its footing after these challenges, I decided to make a leap as bold as the one I took when I moved to Los Angeles a decade ago. I decided to start my own law firm.

With my own firm, I have the best of both worlds. I’ve been able to assist clients both in entertainment industry related matters and with estate planning. As I describe it on my blog, I practice the yin and yang of law. As moving as art can be, I’ve not heard of anyone who looked back on their life and wished they had watched more movies. Conversely, as important as it is to carefully plan and administer an estate, I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like to see a great movie or read a great book now and then. Both art and life involve the stories that move us. The difference, of course, is that movies are fake. In both cases though, lawyers can help get things done efficiently and can help people get the best deal they can for themself and their property. In both of these areas of law, it is an honor for me to do just that.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if I can assist you in any way.