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Alumna helps clients navigate legal issues in the workplace

March 30, 2017 | Alumni

Were it not for Ohio State football, Brigid Heid ’90 wouldn’t be here today. No, really.

November 25, 1950, the Saturday of the Ohio State-Michigan football game, was arguably the most important day of the year for many Buckeye fans. Then the Great Appalachian Storm hit Columbus—one of worst blizzards in almost 40 years—and blanketed the city.

Players fought five inches of snow and ice, 29 mile-per-hour winds, and numb hands as volunteers scrambled to clear the goal lines and sideline yard-markers throughout the game. Ohio State ultimately lost against Michigan 9-3 that fateful night. Still, more than 50,000 people attended the match—since remembered as the Snow Bowl—two of them being Heid’s future parents, Bob and Sally. Her mother watched from the stands as her father played in the match on the field below. They had their first date at a bar on Neil Avenue after Ohio State’s loss.

“And that’s how the rest of my story was written,” Heid said.

As an employment and litigation partner with the Columbus-based firm Eastman & Smith Ltd, Heid helps businesses and business owners navigate legal issues in the workplace. Apart from helping her clients with employment laws and regulations, Heid also advises them on how to best protect their intellectual property and confidential information. Most intellectual property is stolen or misappropriated by employees, she has found throughout her practice.

“Think about what information you can put on a thumb drive today,” she said. “If you have an employee who is not trustworthy, who is willing to steal your most confidential business information, and heaven forbid take it to your competitor, they can do significant harm to your business.”

Heid’s bread and butter clients tend to be private, family-owned companies with 50 to 100 employees. She also occasionally assists a wide variety of other business owners, from large companies, to start-up entrepreneurs who might need a little extra help managing their risk as their companies take off.

Heid urges attorneys interested in business law to familiarize themselves with the complexities of running their own enterprise. Attorneys would be remiss to give practical advice to their clients without truly understanding their concerns as business owners, she said. Heid also encourages budding attorneys to think carefully about the business aspects of their own law practice. Where to find clients, how to develop meaningful relationships with them, and how to demonstrate value are all crucial skills required to operate a private practice that aren’t necessarily intuitive to some attorneys.

“Some clients will only understand the value of hiring a lawyer after they have hired either an uninformed lawyer, or they’ve tried to do it themselves through one of the Avvo’s or LegalZoom’s of the world,” Heid said. “They don’t know what they don’t know until all of the sudden they understand that they may not have protected their business interests in the way that they intended. One of my favorite sayings to a client is, ‘You can pay me a little bit now, or you can pay me a heck of a lot later. It’s your choice.’”

It took nearly 20 years for Heid to find her true legal calling, but her parents inspired her throughout nearly every turn.

Heid’s mother, Sally, was one of two women to graduate from the Moritz College of Law Class of 1954. Her father, Bob, went to law school as well—at what is now Capital University—after working as a petroleum engineer for Columbia Gas of Ohio. They eventually opened a general practice in their hometown of Fremont, Ohio, where they spent nearly 40 years practicing together in the same office.

Inspired by her father’s science background, Heid earned a chemistry degree from Ohio State in 1987. She enrolled at Moritz that year with dreams of becoming a patent attorney. A stint clerking at a Columbus-based boutique patent law firm left her reassessing her career path, though. She loved litigation, but found patent law a little too dry for her taste.

After graduation, Heid spent two years clerking at the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals with the Honorable Alba L. Whiteside ’54, who graduated in the same J.D. class as her mother, Sally. The experience with Whiteside, “one of the most brilliant jurists that ever practiced law in the state,” Heid said, exposed her to a full scope of litigation practice.

Heid has since spent the rest of her career in private practice, specializing in business litigation and employment law. She spent roughly 15 years with Luper Neidenthal & Logan, followed by almost nine years with Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP—both Columbus-based firms. Throughout her career, she has represented clients in fair employment practice matters (covering issues like discrimination, the Fair Pay Act, and harassment) in addition to wage and hour issues, unemployment compensation, and restrictive covenants, among others.

As a longstanding member of Columbus’ legal market, Heid is proud to call Columbus home. And as president of the Columbus Bar Association, she hopes to act as a steward for the very legal community that helped foster her and her parents’ own successful legal careers.

“The vast majority of our attorneys are still very professional and collegial and take to heart the code of professional responsibility,” Heid said. “Not every legal market is like this anymore, but civility in Columbus—although it could be threatened with the nature of our current political debates—is still alive and well. Columbus has an amazing legal community and is a great place to practice law.”

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