Love Thy Lawyer – Tim Burr – Transcript
Louis Goodman 00:05
Hello and welcome to Love Thy Lawyer, where we talk to real lawyers about their lives in and out of the practice of law, how they got to be lawyers and what their experience has been. I’m Louis Goodman, the host of the show, and yes, I’m a lawyer. Nobody’s perfect!
Louis Goodman 00:26
Tim Burr Jr. leads Strategies360 office in Northern California. Based in San Francisco, he is a seasoned advocacy veteran with deep roots throughout the Bay Area. Since joining S360 in 2019, he has built a practice helping clients navigate the intersection of emerging technology, law and public policy. He’s successfully helped clients engage on local and state issues, including the future of work, healthcare, telehealth, life sciences, privacy, data security, transportation, self-driving technology, entertainment and co-working. Before joining S360, Tim led an all public policy for Lyft on the west coast, developing regulations and policy initiatives for the company’s ride share and self-driving vehicle programs across 17 states.
Louis Goodman 01:23
I know Tim because he served as a Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County in Oakland, California, where I happen to know he secured many jury trial verdicts in cases ranging from first degree murder, attempted murder of a peace officer, sexual assault and domestic violence cases. He also served on the District Attorney Legislative Committee. Tim Burr, welcome to Love Thy Lawyer.
Tim Burr 01:51
Louis, it’s so great to be here. I’ve heard a bunch of your episodes, so I feel honored to be the next guest.
Louis Goodman 01:57
I’m very happy to have you. It’s fun to talk to you. We certainly had some times together in the DA’s office, but you’ve been out of the DA’s office for a while. So tell us what sort of practice are you in right now?
Tim Burr 02:11
Yeah. So I left the Alameda County District Attorney’s office in 2014 and since then I’ve been working essentially on government affairs, public policy, which are kind of a fancy way of saying lobbying. And so when I left the DA’s office, I actually joined Lyft, the ride sharing company’s public policy team, one of the early folks on that Lyft public policy team. And then in 2019, January, 2019, I ended up joining Strategies360, which is I think the largest public affairs, government affairs firm out on the west coast. And I had the opportunity to open up the San Francisco based Bay Area practice for Strategies360. So I work now essentially as a contract lobbyists, you know, clients work with us because they have a regulatory issue either at city government, you know, maybe it’s county government throughout the nine barrier counties or that they have an issue that needs to be solved in Sacramento, and we work in the state Capitol.
Louis Goodman 03:10
Where are you from originally?
Tim Burr 03:12
Born in San Jose, born and raised in the South Bay. So yeah, we live kind of either in San Jose or Saratoga growing up. Fun place to grow up that’s for sure. And then my family did move to Tucson, Arizona. So we lived there for three years. That was my seventh, eighth and ninth grade. And then we moved right back home to Saratoga and that’s where I finished up high school.
Louis Goodman 03:36
What high school did you graduate from?
Tim Burr 03:38
St. Francis high school, which is in Mountain View. Great school, super fun. We lived a little bit south, so we had to like navigate traffic, getting to and from St. Francis every day, but really, really great school.
Louis Goodman 03:50
What sort of things did you participate in or do when you were in high school at St. Francis?
Tim Burr 03:54
I mean, it was all sports, so yeah, soccer and baseball were my sports and I haven’t thought about high school in kind of a little bit. So, you know, just all kinds of activities early on. I was a little unique and I had transferred high schools, so I also had very close relationships with a lot of my friends in Arizona. So, you know, I would go back for prom in Arizona, for example, and then also have prom at St. Francis. And it was kind of a unique experience, like trying to keep close ties with my friends in Arizona. That was before social media, you actually had to call and go visit people to keep in touch. So it made a unique high school experience.
Louis Goodman 04:30
When you graduated from St. Francis, where’d you go to college?
Tim Burr 04:33
I went to UC Davis. Yeah, and I absolutely loved it. My story about Davis is, you know, when you applied to the UCs, you can apply to like seven or eight, you know, all the campuses in one, I didn’t really know much about Davis at the time. My grandma encouraged me to apply and I did. And, you know, eventually got in. When I was deciding on college, it was either University of Arizona, Santa Clara University, where I had a lot of family history, including my dad had attended there, undergrad and MBA. And then UC Davis, I had a couple of really close friends from high school who were a year or two above me that were at Davis. And so I went and visited them my senior year, completely fell in love with the campus. And so I’m a huge advocate for UCD.
Louis Goodman 05:18
I’ve said this before on this podcast, but it seems to me that everybody who goes to Davis, whether for undergrad or law school loves it, has a great experience.
Tim Burr 05:31
Yeah. I went all in. I mean, it was part of my personality. In high school, I was kind of, you know, I was very involved in my old school and at St. Francis, and so Davis was the time for me to just really just engage there. And I did, I got involved in student government. I played lacrosse the first, year, two years of college because I wanted to try a new sport and I was involved in my fraternity and it really was a huge shaping of my career and personality now, just the opportunity to be at Davis. In the proximity of Sacramento, which, you know, as we talk about it will become clear, that was a big influence on me. So yeah, I can’t say enough good things about UC Davis. I still go there quite often because I have to go to Sacramento for work. And so I stop there all the time to go eat and hit my favorite places.
Louis Goodman 06:19
When you graduated from Davis, did you go directly to law school or did you take some time off?
Tim Burr 06:25
I did not go straight through to law school. So I actually went to Washington, DC right after graduation. So like two days after my graduation from Davis, I flew to Washington, DC and I interned for then Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Louis Goodman 06:41
When did you first start thinking about becoming a lawyer and a related question, when did you first start thinking about going to law school?
Tim Burr 06:55
It really wasn’t until college. I ended up interning at the Sacramento District Attorney’s and so I knew I had this interest in government and politics, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that. But when I went to work at the Sacramento DA’s office, it sparked something just watching the Deputy DAs work for victims, how serious they took their job and the role that they saw themselves. I knew at that point that at some point, I wanted to go to law school and more specifically, when I went to law school, I was laser-focused.
I wanted to become a trial attorney. And more specifically, my plan at the time was that I wanted to become a prosecutor.
Louis Goodman 07:33
Yeah, I had never really thought about being a prosecutor until I was almost done with law school and I had the experience of clerking, you know, very fortuitously at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. And the minute I got in there, I went, “Wow, this is where I really want to be. This is just, this is what I want to do at least for now. This is what I really want to do.”
Tim Burr 08:00
My first year law school CrimLaw professor is a woman named Ellen Kreitzberg, and professor Kreitzberg was a defense attorney by background and at some point in time I approached her and let her know that I wanted to go this route. And I remember vividly her saying, “If you want to become a prosecutor, the office you want to go to in the Bay Area is the Alameda County DA’s office. They do things ethically, you know, there they seek justice.”
Louis Goodman 08:25
Where did you go to law school?
Tim Burr 08:27
I went to Santa Clara. So at the time, as I mentioned, I was living in Washington, DC. I’m a California person. I wanted to be back home. I wanted to be near friends and family. You know, Louis and I’ve talked a little bit before this. We both share a passion for the mountains. I wanted to be home and be able to go to the beach, be able go to the mountains and you just don’t have that in DC. And, and so I kind of mentioned earlier, my dad had gone to Santa Clara. My great aunt was like one of the first women to graduate from Santa Cruz. A little family, family lore and so it was important for me to come and go to school here in the Bay Area. I mean, there were some schools in DC and in other places that I thought about going even back to Davis for law school, but I really wanted to be back in the Bay Area specifically. And that’s how I ended up at Santa Clara.
Louis Goodman 09:17
When you graduated from Santa Clara, was the DA’s office your first legal job?
Tim Burr 09:21
Yes. Yes, and as I mentioned, it was my singular focus to end up at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Tom Orloff was still the DA at the time. I think I was one of the last folks, I think we were the last full locker class during Tom Orloff’s time as the District Attorney.
Louis Goodman 09:39
I happen to know, I was the last Deputy District Attorney hired by Lowell Jensen.
Tim Burr 09:45
Louis Goodman 09:47
How long were you in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office?
Tim Burr 09:51
Yeah, it was six years. Yeah. So it was 2008 to end of 2014. What a tremendous experience. When I decided to leave, that was one of the hardest decisions, because as you know, Louis, there are a lot of extremely talented people who have spent their career at the Alameda County DA’s office. And I certainly thought that was going to be my career. I thought I was going to stay there potentially, you know, for the duration. And so, yeah, it was, it was after six years, then I decided to go to Lyft.
Louis Goodman 10:23
Yeah. Leaving the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done. And I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t sort of say, “Well, was that really the right move? I don’t know!”
Tim Burr 10:36
And I miss the camaraderie of the office and so many of the personalities. The way I think about it is the opportunities for mentorship in that office, and I also give credit to the defense bar in Alameda County and Alameda County Public Defender’s office. I mean, I learned so much from working with folks like yourself, Louis, and watching all the other DA’s try cases. That was the beauty of it. You got to, you know, firsthand watch this incredible pool of the top talented lawyers.
Louis Goodman 11:08
What is it that you really like about being a lawyer?
Tim Burr 11:12
Advocacy. Yeah, I love, you know, working on issues and part of the reason why I ended up leaving the DA’s Office was I wanted to kind of work on other issues. From a legal standpoint, I’d always had an interest in government. You know, at the time I vividly remember governments were sort of fighting against Lyft and Uber and like the ride and the ride sharing companies that had just been founded. And to me, it was a no brainer. I mean, we spent a lot of time, Louis, dealing with DUI cases and seeing families and people’s careers ruined by DUIs. So to me Lyft and Uber and this kind of new technology, it was important to our community. To be able to go join Lyft at that time, we were really creating a whole new regulatory framework.
Louis Goodman 12:01
Yeah. I think that the experience of going to law school and learning to think like a lawyer and then the experience of trying cases and learning to think like I trial advocate are skills that really can be taken to all kinds of other endeavors.
Tim Burr 12:21
Exactly. At 2014, Lyft was a small company. I joined and it was like maybe 250 people. Maybe, maybe a little bit smaller than that. At the same time you had Uber who was much better funded, a larger company. And then, you know, we really were going up against the kind of taxis who had regulatory capture on a very local level. They had relationships with government officials and we were going in trying to unlock this puzzle. And every market was different. The players were different. And to me, it just reminded me of just what it was like to have a stack of cases. What are the problems with this case? What are the issues that we need to hone in on, you know, case to case and adjusting strategy as needed is something that transferred perfectly over to government affairs and lobbying.
Louis Goodman 13:10
If a young person was just coming out of college and was thinking about a career in law, would you advise that individual to head towards the law?
Tim Burr 13:20
I’m a yes on that question. I am a believer that despite, you know, what we mentioned, and we all know that the challenges of deciding to become a lawyer, you know, the skill set that you build in order to solve problems is unique.
Louis Goodman 13:35
What do you think is the best advice you’ve ever received and what advice would you give to a young person who is just starting off in their law career?
Tim Burr 13:45
It’s put in the time. I remember Senator Feinstein, telling folks to put in the work and put in more time than anybody else. And so I try to remind myself of that all the time.
Louis Goodman 13:57
Do you think the legal system is fair?
Tim Burr 13:59
I believe that the criminal justice system is fair. At least I’d like to believe that the criminal justice system is fair, but that said, you know, it was always part of my thought process that there needs to be reform. And so it’s nice to be able to work on some of those issues in Sacramento.
Louis Goodman 14:17
I’m going to shift gears here a little bit. What’s your family life like and how has practicing law affected your family life and how has practicing law fit into your family life?
Tim Burr 14:30
Yeah, so this answer would have been very different three years ago, but we, as I mentioned, have a two-year-old and a two month old and my wife works. She’s the head of product for a company called Calendly. She’s a lawyer by background, but actually ended up working in product. And so she’s a major product leader in the Bay Area and really just in tech in general. And so the two of us have demanding jobs and we’re trying to balance, you know, raising our kids. Quite frankly, the pandemic has allowed us, you know, to be able to be home and work from home.
Louis Goodman 15:08
Have you had any interesting travel experiences?
Tim Burr 15:11
I love to snowboard. And so we had an opportunity to go down to South America and so we got to do some snowboarding down, both in Chile. There’s a mountain there called Portillo, I hope to get back there sometime in my life. It’s just an amazing experience and then three trips to Argentina that were, you know, based around going down there and snowboarding. And of course, you know, maybe this goes without saying, but you’re traveling down to South America, in late July and early August is kind of the best time to go down there to go skiing. So, you know, those were very unique trips. One of those trips was like, I want to say it was an almost two month trip around Argentina where it was basically just bus travel, long bus rides and, you know, we were just trying to follow the storms as we were kind of busting around the different parts of Argentina and the different mountains down there.
Louis Goodman 16:03
Now you’ve mentioned snowboarding and snow sports. Are there any other recreational pursuits that you enjoy in order to kind of clear your head when you’re trying to move away from work?
Tim Burr 16:16
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’m a big outdoors guy. In the winter snowboarding is a passion of mine. I, you know, now I have, you know, a little kid where I get to play all kinds of sports with him. So my first love was baseball, still is baseball. I grew up playing baseball and actually I played men’s league hardball for a long time starting when I was working in Washington, DC. And I really stopped because I was traveling so much when I was working for Lyft. So, you know, just kind of anything related to sports. Baseball, football and then personally I’m a runner and we try to be outside as much as possible.
Louis Goodman 16:53
Yeah. I mean, I think that practicing law is hard. I think all the professions are hard and I don’t think that you get to be a lawyer easily and there’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of stress. And I think that it’s just absolutely critical to have some activities that are physical and can get our minds off of the work that we do.
Tim Burr 17:22
I think about that a lot because of the high stakes nature of work as a lawyer or what I do now in terms of serving our clients on government affairs issues and campaigns, activities like snowboarding, surf, or I mountain bike. I didn’t mention that I mountain bike a lot as well. Where you’re just out of work and you’re focused on what is directly in front of you. You know, I get all my best ideas in those moments. And running also is important to me. I feel like I generate all my good ideas when I’m running. And you know, when I was in trial in Alameda it back back when I was in the DA’s Office, that Lake Merritt run was absolutely critical to my mental health and the successes I had in trial because all of my good closing argument, thoughts or opening lines, or like just trial strategy came from that, what 3.2 mile loop around Lake Merritt. And so that was critical to my success as a lawyer is being able to find the balance outside of the practice to kind of keep your head on straight.
Louis Goodman 18:31
Yeah, it would depend if you did like one long lake or two short lakes.
Tim Burr 18:37
Yeah. There was a time where I could run two lakes, but I’m not at that, I’m not at that level and shape anymore.
Louis Goodman 18:43
How do you define success?
Tim Burr 18:45
Yeah, for me, it’s just, you know, doing work that you love and you’re passionate about and finding balance and time with your friends and family.
Louis Goodman 18:54
What sort of things keep you up at night?
Tim Burr 18:56
Two things. It’s health of family and friends, and then like our work is intense. And I am passionate about helping the clients that we’re fortunate enough to work with. I mean it’s, I am the type of person that I find myself up at two, three in the morning, you know, thinking about these issues. A few years ago, actually, I started doing this habit when I was in the DA’s office. You know, you’d like, you’re in a trial and you come up with a line or a zinger or like a strategy, write that down in your phone. So I, you know, rely pretty heavily on my notes app on my phone where I just write down those ideas in the middle of the night. Otherwise I stay up dwelling on them. So yeah, it’s a combination of health and friends and family and work.
Louis Goodman 19:42
Well, you see, there’s the generational difference. When I was trying cases in the DA’s Office, I always had an envelope by the side of the bed with a pen and I just would write all my ideas on the envelope and then look at them in the morning.
Tim Burr 20:01
Yeah, I like that.
Louis Goodman 20:02
Let’s say you and your wife came into some real money. Let’s say 3 or 4 billion dollars. What, if anything, would you do differently in your life?
Tim Burr 20:15
That’s a great question. Personally, I think we would travel a lot more and get to see more of the world. That would be nice to be able to prioritize that. Traveling is expensive with a family, you know, but I think it would be trying to figure out just how we prioritize time in terms of investing in the community and people around us that are working to make the community a better place. You know, I love the question because it forces you to take a look at what kind of work that you’re doing. And so if the answer to this question is I quit my job and then it’s like, oh, okay, well, you know, do you really like what you’re doing or is there another career path you should be thinking about? I’m pretty far down my career path at this point. So, you know, I’m happy. I get to work in an area, Louis, where like we’re advising young companies, you know, big companies, big fortune 500 companies, but also young companies, young founders who are really excited about, you know, their idea, their business. And so I do feel even if we came into some huge money, you know, I’d still want to do some of that work and working with new companies and innovative companies. But without question, it would be a lot more travel if we came into that kind of money.
Louis Goodman 21:30
Well, you’re a sports fan. Let’s say someone gave you 60 seconds on the Super Bowl. Really big microphone, really big platform. You could make an ad with your couple of billion dollars and say anything that you wanted, what would you want to say to the world in that 60 seconds on the Super Bowl ad?
Tim Burr 21:53
I would think I’d want to be able to use that to express the love for my family and tell the people around me in terms of, you know, my community, my friends, and how important they are to me. I don’t think I’d use that time to be selling anything in particular. So that’s, that’s what I would probably do with my Super Bowl spot.
Louis Goodman 22:10
Tim Burr, thank you so much for joining me today on the Love Thy Lawyer podcast, it has been a delight to talk to you.
Tim Burr 22:18
Louis, it has been my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on and I look forward to seeing you sometime soon and hopefully we get a chance to go skiing together.
Louis Goodman 22:28
That’s it for today’s episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening, please share it with a friend and subscribe to the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email. I promise I’ll respond. Take a look at our website at lovethylawyer.com, where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs and information.
Thanks as always to my guests who share their wisdom and Joel Katz for music, Bryan Matheson for technical support and Tracy Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman
Tim Burr 23:10
But that said, you know, whether the, oh, I think from my, let me, let me restart this answer.