About This Video
In this week’s episode, We interviewed Tina Odjaghian of Odjaghian Law. Mrs. Odjaghian was a contributor to our TBI issue and runs Brain Society of California and Odjaghian Law. From Mrs. Odjaghian’s youth, she has be resiliently putting in the effort to become one of Metro Los Angeles’ top influencers in Litigation and Traumatic Brain Injury. We were honored to get some time with her to ask her more in depth questions about her, her work, and the article she contributed to our publication. We hope you, The audience, enjoy this interview and get something out of it.
Legal Disclaimer: This is not legal advice or medical advice, seek a licensed attorney for legal advice. Only to be used as educational information and entertainment.
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Jean Paul: This is JP here with the D4A Personal Injury show and I’m here with our host, Nicole.
Nicole: Hi guys, today we are here with Tina Odjaghian. Amazing last name, which I’m having a very hard time pronouncing.
Jean Paul: Even in the entire world honey.
Nicole: Kind of nervous right now because we have like a little celebrity in the house.
Tina: Thank you.
Jean Paul: For sure.
Nicole: I’m very jealous of the closet.
Jean Paul: Nicole admires you’re dressing.
Nicole: The clothes, the dressing is always on point. And yes.
Jean Paul: Yes.
Tina: You’re always stunning yourself. That’s a huge compliment. Thank you for that. Yeah, that’s like my creative outlet. That’s my happy place.
Jean Paul: That’s awesome.
Jean Paul: That’s really cool.
Nicole: So, I want to talk to you about our doctors for accidents magazine, you wrote an amazing article in it, and about your story and how you came here. And you came here because your brother was going to be turning five and you were trying to get out before he was drafted.
Tina: Yeah, yeah.
Nicole: Are you older than your brother?
Tina: I am. So, I’m five years older than him. Thank you for the feature.
Jean Paul: Absolutely.
Tina: By the way, it was really emotional to read after it was all put together, I really, I was touched by it. And I really appreciate it. So, thank you both. So, I was 10 years old back in Iran during the Iran Iraq war, after the revolution, and it was it was a tough place to be like bomb shelters. There are bomb shelters in the basement of all the buildings, including ours. And so, sirens would go off at night, and we would all know to run down into the bomb shelter. And then they would just you know, bomb all over the city, civilians. You know, they care and it’s such a scary time. But it had become the norm until, you know, one day we learned because of the shortage of soldiers that were starting to not draft boys into the army at five, but prevent them from exiting the country to ensure that they had, you know, a pool to draft from like six or seven years old. It’s horrifying. If you think about it, you know, I’ve got a six-year-old now. And I can’t even I can’t even imagine. Right? So, my dad knew that my mom was, you know, loved it there. Her whole life was there, you know. And so, he couldn’t tell us that we were moving here for good. So, he told us we’re going on vacation. And we came here in one suitcase with the expectation that we’d be going back and then he broke us the news that we won’t be going back. Probably a good decision on his part.
Tina: But it definitely is. It definitely was a prelude to a lot of difficult years here as a first-generation immigrant. All of which I’m grateful for, you know, in the grand scheme of things, but back then as a 10-year-old, it’s hard to wrap your brain around it. So
Nicole: How many languages do you speak?
Jean Paul: I was going to ask that.
Tina: Depends on the day.
Jean Paul: I read five, is that true?
Tina: I used to speak Russian fluently because I lived with my grandma for a while when she first moved out here and I was starting law school and she used to speak it to me. And after she passed away, I didn’t practice it as much. And so, you know, with languages if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Jean Paul: Yeah.
Tina: And so, I speak Armenian, I speak Farsi. I speak Spanglish, thanks to my nanny I love that.
Tina: And thanks to all my clients with whom I communicate in Spanish, mostly because you know, most of them are only Spanish speaking. Yes. It’s great.
Jean Paul: And English on a good day. So yeah.
Nicole: Jamie, can I see Spanish?
Jean Paul: [Spanish]
Jean Paul: Yeah. Perfect. Yeah, perfect, though. So, it sounds like from what I’ve read, and what I’ve seen on social media it. Are you practicing workers comp? Are you doing personal injury? Are you doing a little bit of both as it just depends,
Tina: We do a little bit of both on the crossover cases, because you know, some fact patterns lend themselves to both, as you know, so imagine the situation where someone is driving a truck at work, and they get hit by a third party, they’ve got a worker’s comp claim. And if the other party wasn’t at fault, then they would have a third-party claim against them. Or think about the construction site where you know, I’ve got a client that works for the framer, but because of the negligence of the general contractor, you know, or the negligence of another subcontractor, they’re badly hurt. So, they would have a worker’s comp claim against their employer, but they’d also have a third-party [inaudible] claim against the other subcontractor, but the bulk of my work is catastrophic worker’s comp. So, it’s traumatic brain injuries that arise out of, you know, the industrial realm. Yeah, yeah. My goodness.
Jean Paul: So how many years have you been practicing law?
Tina: It’s been 17/18 years and now I think, wow, yeah. It’s been a minute.
Nicole: That’s great. I’ve seen you’ve had some great results. You’ve gotten extremely popular there with TBI. You have now started brain SoCal. How many years has brain SoCal been around?
Tina: It’s a baby nonprofit organization, we’re in our third year, we’re starting our third year now. But last year, we were dormant for the most part because of COVID. We weren’t able to have our conference. But two years ago, we had our inaugural conference. And that was a huge success. We had 800 people show up in the Biltmore in downtown LA.
Jean Paul: Very nice.
Tina: And so, yeah, it’s, it’s a baby organization, but I’m super proud of it.
Nicole: So, what’s the point of the organization? What do you do for? I guess, what’s, what’s the goal for the organization?
Tina: That’s a great question. So, look, our mission statement. And our goal for the organization is to sort of raise the bar industry wide for folks that are charged with the responsibility of taking care of folks who have brain injury. So, what do I mean by that, as an attorney practicing TBI litigation, I would see oftentimes that like there to be two plaintiffs that had similar injuries, you can never have the same injury because every brain injury is different, right? But similar injuries and all things held, you know, constant and equal, they would get these hugely different results. And there’s huge disparity, and the results obtained, and a lot of that had to do with the resources of the attorney, the skill set of the attorney, how many years out of school, they were, how they were perceived by the insurance carrier, whether or not they were regarded as someone who’s going to go forward and try that case, or if they were regarded as someone who’s going to sell their clients out. And so, you know, a lot of people say, “Well, why do you share all your experts, you share all your resources? And the reason for that is I feel like, if my colleagues start asking for money, more money and hitting bigger results for brain injured folks, then it’s going to be easier for me to do that, when I go to the carrier, they’re not going to look at me like I’m crazy in my case isn’t worth that. So, the idea behind it was to get all the Masters in our practice area who represent catastrophically injured folks. And, you know, pool our resources and, and teach, you know, younger attorneys who maybe have limited resources and younger clinicians, even doctors who say, you know, TBI is not a thing, or the super conservative ones who just aren’t enlightened regarding the new medicine, the new medicine, and how brain injuries can be, you know, a disease process that affects all different aspects of your health and your life. And so, you know, we thought a conference would be a good way to bring together the most cutting-edge diagnostics and treatment modalities.
Jean Paul: It’s amazing, because I remember maybe a couple years back, just I saw one of the testimonials that you had, and this person, I think, was working, you know, in an industrial type of job and had us like a fall of some sort. It was just so sad. But my goodness, I mean, that must be tough dealing, you know, with a lot of the TBI injuries. How emotionally stressful is it like?
Tina: It’s really emotionally draining, but if you think about it, I mean, so it’s family loss, those other areas of practice. The nice thing about it, though, I’ll tell you is you get to be a part of the silver lining in their story and in their tragedy, and you really feel like you get to help them and you get to make a difference. And so, is it difficult? Absolutely. Because brain injured folks are not the easiest to deal with. And their families are, you know, at their wit’s end oftentimes, and so they’re not easy to deal with. But I think, you know, for the most part, if you do a good job, and if they feel like you’re on their team, they’re really appreciative. My clients are wonderful, you know, for the most part and so, you know, I love doing what I do.
Jean Paul: That’s amazing.
Nicole: It’s great. So, is there any advice you would give your younger self starting a law firm, rewind back in time and tell yourself?
Tina: Oh, my God, so many mistakes? No, I’m kidding.
Nicole: Mistakes are good, you need mistakes to learn. That’s how life is that there was like one specific thing?
Tina: I always say, as a first-generation immigrant who, you know, kind of left my own devices for a minute there. I think I always struggled with self-confidence. And, so I always say, The advice I would give myself is that you’ve got what it takes and it’s going to be okay, at the end of the day, worry less because I was such a worrywart always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And, you know, I think that’s just part of my geological blueprint comes from, you know, the trauma that I incurred moving here at such a young age, and having my support structure ripped away. My biggest thing is, you know, have faith, stay your course and everything will turn out as it should. But as you know, I evolve and we change our practices, we get older, I’m realizing that, you know, the new epiphanies tend to center around, you can’t pour from an empty cup, you got to like take care of yourself, and put yourself first go to that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off, go to the gym, take time with your family. You see on my social media, I make it a point, no matter what craziness is going on at the office, to incorporate other fulfilling aspects in my day-to-day life so that I just do a better job representing my clients. Weeks that I’ve been trying, I have insane weeks I really, and I feel drained, I think that obviously is going to impact my ability to perform and deliver. So, make yourself a priority, that would be a priority.
Jean Paul: Absolutely.
Nicole: Any advice for all the young mothers out there who are trying to start their own companies or their own business?
Tina: You know, I would say, if you’re in a firm, or in a practice, where you see the aptitude for growth and advancement and opportunity, then put yourself in a position to, you know, take advantage of that, and make it known early on, that you’re interested in, and be vocal about what you want and assert yourself and ask for it. Because otherwise, you’re not going to be given it, you know, and that includes opportunities to try cases and such. Now, if you’re in a situation where you feel like you know, it’s just not going to happen, there’s just no opportunity there other than get out. You know, and, and, you know, if there’s no room at the table, set your own tables, what I always say, and don’t wait for the right time, there’s never a right time, you know, I remember when I was thinking of going out, “I’m going to take it, well, let’s just pay off this, you know, credit card debt first, or let’s just do the student loan first, just have the first baby first”. But, you know, as things get going, life gets busier. And there’s more to do, and there’s more obligations and more responsibility on your plate. And so, if you wait for the right time, that time will just never come. So take the leap of faith, expect to have it be rough for a year or two. But do your very best, you know, put yourself out there and the opportunities will just come. Yeah, do it.
Jean Paul: I’m a firm believer of like when an opportunity shows up? It’s like, you got to seize the moment, if you don’t.
Jean Paul: You know, opportunities only come once in a while. And it’s like, if you’re not taking advantage of it. Yeah, really going anywhere. Yeah, I think that’s part of what Nicole and I have really done is take as much as we possibly can. And whenever an opportunity has shown up, we’ve made it to where we are right now.
Nicole: Shifted schedules.
Jean Paul: Oh, yeah.
Nicole: Lots of times at grandmas.
Tina: I’m really proud of you guys, though, honestly.
Jean Paul: Thank you.
Tina: I have to tell you, you guys make such a great team, and you’ve got such great chemistry and so evident, and, you know, for you to break off and do your own thing. I know, that wasn’t easy, but you did it. And so that’s a perfect example of how to go about it.
Jean Paul: Do you have any particular books that I don’t know that you read or that you suggest for anybody out there?
Tina: You know, I feel terrible saying this, because I am a huge proponent of being well read and self-taught. And I used to read a lot in my childhood because I had a lot of time to myself. And when I was bad, and that was often my punishment was to copy pages out of the dictionary because my mom was, well, something else but, you know, it also helped enhance my vocabulary for English being my fourth language. And yeah, you know, I’ve always been really appreciative for my good command of language that stems from copying many pages, probably the entire flippin dictionary, but I haven’t had much time to read lately. The last time I really enjoyed a read where I reread this particular author’s books was probably a year or two ago, I love anything, Malcolm Gladwell, I love his book, a “Blink Outliers”, all of them, I think they’re interesting, but they also have great pearls of wisdom that anyone can apply in their everyday life and trusting their instincts and you know, what it takes and you know, how to, you know, how to get to the next level, and so forth and so on. Those are books that I always recommend. There are other self-help books that I love when I have time to read. I like to read books about positive mindset, and, and things like that, because I think that I find that most fulfilling and it enhances, you know, my mood and my perspective on things, you know?
Jean Paul: Yeah, I know a lot about that. I can definitely relate there big-time.
Nicole: I’m more of the artsy type.
Tina: You are? That’s really great too, because that’s a creative outlet and it gets your you know, serotonin, endorphins, all that and all that helps with mental health too.
Jean Paul: For sure.
Tina: A win-win.
Nicole: Always find some sort of anything that you’re interested in and just use it for the relaxation point of your life.
Jean Paul: Yeah.
Nicole: Painting, reading, listening to music. Anyways, relax the brain. It’s good.
Jean Paul: Absolutely.
Nicole: Thank you so much, Tina, for coming on. You are a huge inspiration for a lot of people. And I really enjoyed your story and how you started to where you are now and what you’ve done, and especially being a mother and being where you’re at today.
Jean Paul: It’s incredible.
Tina: Thank you so much for having me. You guys are both amazing, and I really appreciate you and I’m looking forward to having you at my conference.
Jean Paul: Thank you.
Nicole: Thank you.