Dual purpose: Product liability attorney to work both sides of border

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By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

Fluent in three languages, Tina Georgieva is about to have a two-sided legal career, one that will cross the longest international border in the world.

Born in Bulgaria and a resident of Canada until last year, Georgieva earned a joint juris doctorate degree from the University of Windsor and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2011, affording her the opportunity to practice law in both Michigan and the province of Ontario.

A products liability attorney with Bowman and Brooke in Troy, Georgieva passed the bar exam in Michigan last year and successfully completed the Ontario bar as well, and will be licensed to practice there in September after wrapping up a mandatory 10-month internship program.

“It’s been an involved process to obtain licensing in both countries, but I’m looking forward to the opportunities it will present in handling cases that cross borders,” said Georgieva, who is fluent in Bulgarian, French, and English. “I’ve also taken the Florida bar exam and will look forward to be able to practice there as well.”

At the age of 14, Georgieva, her parents, and younger sister moved to Toronto “to build a new life,” free from the restrictions of the former Eastern Bloc country, a Soviet satellite state.

“I had just started ninth grade when we moved to Toronto,” Georgieva explained. “My father is an electrical engineer and my mother is a nurse, and they have built their careers there. It was a great move for them and our family, giving us all the opportunity to build new lives.”

Following high school, Georgieva attended Ryerson University, a 28,000-student college in downtown Toronto, majoring in French studies. She graduated from there in 2008, and was accepted for the joint degree program at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and UDM School of Law. It’s trumpeted by school officials as “Three years. Two degrees. One program.” Georgieva found that it more than lived up to its billing.

“It’s unique and it is demanding, especially taking courses at both law schools,” she said. “While it was challenging, I also liked the variety of the courses, and the chance to see first-hand the similarities and the differences in the two legal systems. I feel that it really broadened my legal education, and gave me a greater understanding and appreciation for both.”

Her thirst for knowledge was evident in college as well.

“I had the chance to attend a six-week program at the University of Montreal, which was an interesting cultural and educational experience,” Georgieva said. “It’s a free program in Canada, meant to encourage bilingualism among Anglophones and Francophones. Living in a French-speaking city gave me a great opportunity to improve my language skills. I didn’t shy away from any chance to learn about the language and the French way of life.”

While in law school, Georgieva served as an intern at the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, also finding time to work as a student attorney at the University of Windsor’s Community Legal Aid Clinic. Both assignments whetted her appetite for a career in litigation.

“I enjoy every aspect of the courtroom experience and feel it gives me a chance to best use the skillset I am developing as a lawyer,” Georgieva said. “I’m fortunate to work with some of the finest product liability attorneys in the country with this firm, and they have been very willing to share their expertise with me.”

Before joining Bowman and Brooke, Georgieva was a law clerk at a criminal defense litigation firm in Toronto, using some of the skills she developed as a member of the University of Windsor’s moot court team, which advanced to the semifinals of an international competition in New York.

Now, as an associate with Bowman and Brooke — which has offices in seven states, Georgieva knows that the stakes are considerably higher.

“We’re involved in defending a number of multi-district litigation and class action cases,” Georgieva said. “Some of them, of course, have international implications with high exposure potential for our clients. I’ve had to learn a lot in a hurry, but that is just part of what excites me about the role that I have here. It is a great place to learn, to grow, and to pick the brains of some very gifted lawyers.”
While spare time has been in short supply since she joined the firm, Georgieva hopes to become involved in pro bono work with the local bar associations in the months ahead.

“I really believe in the importance of giving back to the community and I want to do my part to help those who cannot afford legal services,” Georgieva said.

If she elects to participate in the pro bono work promoted by the Oakland County Bar Association, Georgieva will be closer to the OCBA’s office beginning this fall. That’s when Bowman and Brooke will be moving its office from Big Beaver in Troy to a new location off Woodward Avenue in Bloomfield Hills.

“Everyone is excited about the move,” Georgieva said. “For me, it will be the latest in a series over the last few years, so it will be good to be settled and to put down some roots.”

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