The Byrds: The Road Less Traveled

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Michael S. Byrd, JD, and Steve Byrd, MD

By Michael Meyer

When you think of medical aesthetics, chances are you think of providers performing treatments such as toxin and filler injections, laser skin resurfacing, and plastic surgery. And while these providers are unquestionably the face of the industry, it takes a host of people operating behind the scenes to make sure that medical aesthetic practices are safe, compliant and successful.
Michael S. Byrd, JD, an attorney who is a partner at Dallas-based health care and business law firm, ByrdAdatto, is one of these people, and his connection to industry was established very early in his life: His father, Steve Byrd, MD, has been a prominent plastic surgeon in the Dallas area since 1978.

"I kind of grew up in that world," Michael says. "It truly is responsible for a lot of who I am— my dad paid for my college education, and so I can even attribute my education to medical aesthetics. It has given me so many opportunities, even before I became an attorney practicing in this area."

His background with medicine helped Michael bridge a common gap between doctors and lawyers that existed when he began practice in the 1990s and, in doing so, he set himself up for a distinguished career working to help medical practices become safe and compliant.

"The mid-'90s was the peak of the clich√© of 'doctors hate lawyers,' except it wasn't really a clich√©—it was true," Michael says. "There were a lot of physicians who felt like they were at risk of losing their practice because of frivolous lawsuits. There were fewer controls in place. There was this general distrust and, to my benefit, my dad and his partners would give me work to do simply because they trusted me, because I was 'one of them' and they believed I wouldn't take advantage of them. I got to learn in that environment, where I was given work before I was really qualified from a skill perspective to do it, but they knew I would do right by them."

Michael's reputation as a lawyer who could be trusted by doctors helped him to become an eminent health care attorney using the skills that came naturally to him—the things he learned from his father.

"Alex [Thiersch, AmSpa CEO] introduced me several years ago at a plastic surgery conference as 'the plastic surgeon whisperer'—it was funny, everyone laughed, but there's another element of it that resonates," Michael says. "Growing up in the home of a plastic surgeon, the things that we are talking about were natural and comfortable to me even back then, when I didn't really know all the laws."

Working in medical aesthetics has also given Michael a deeper appreciation for his father's career and helped him learn about the way Dr. Byrd's work has affected others.

"I get to interact with people who have been impacted by my father professionally, and it's great," says Michael. "One of the most impactful examples I have is, I was on a flight to Houston probably 15 years ago, and I was sitting next to a young plastic surgeon in training. We started talking, told him I was a health care attorney and I represented plastic surgeons, I told him my dad was a plastic surgeon, we exchanged names, and he said, 'Oh, are you related to Steve Byrd?' And he went on and on about how, in all the books he's reading and all the things he's learning, he sees Steve Byrd everywhere, and what a titan he is in the industry. And I'm sitting there thinking, 'Wow, I'm on a plane, flying on a business trip to Houston, randomly sitting next to a guy who's a plastic surgeon and getting to hear that about my father.' It's amazing."

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