Honoree: Lawyer receives OCBA Professionalism Award


 By Debra Talcott

Legal News
When the term “professionalism” is used, we envision a person whose character, intentions, and practice of craft are beyond reproach.  This year’s Oakland County Bar Association recipient of the Professionalism Award, Lawrence Garcia, embodies those qualities and more.
Nominated by Alfredo Casab of Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy, & Sadler, Garcia is known for demonstrating the highest standards of integrity, fairness, and excellence.
“Lawrence has always maintained a respect for everyone’s time and opinion, and has remained highly diplomatic in resolving any disputes.  It is clear that Lawrence’s people skills seem to elevate the level of civility and mutual respect among those dealing with him,” wrote Casab in his nomination letter to the OCBA.
Garcia, in response, says he “was thrilled when I heard that I would be receiving the OCBA’s Professionalism Award,” which was presented at the Annual Meeting in early June.
“It is extremely important for lawyers to be courteous, upright, and respectful,” says Garcia.  “We have to keep up appearances with the public we serve. Plus, our work as lawyers is hard enough, and we ought to avoid making it harder by treating each other poorly or by showing up unprepared.  I was honored to be selected for the award.”
Lisa Stadig Elliott, executive director of the Oakland County Bar Association, praised Garcia’s contributions to the Diversity and Circuit Court Committees of the OCBA.
“Lawrence’s work with the Diversity Committee’s partnership on the Patriot Week panel discussion in September 2012 was nothing less than stellar,” Stadig Elliot says.  “He did the heavy lifting in identifying and securing speakers for the panel, ‘The First Amendment in the Digital Age:  What Will Free Speech and Free Press Mean in a Minority-Majority Era?’  Moreover, when our moderator wasn’t able to attend at incredibly short notice, Lawrence stepped in, moderated the panel, and did it without skipping a beat. He represented the best of the OCBA and was professional, learned, and engaging.”
In 2011, Garcia started the Garcia Law Group, which has a Detroit office in the Fisher Building and a Sterling Heights office on Dequindre Road. Considered an expert in trial advocacy, Garcia represents hospitals and health systems, health care practitioners, and private individuals.  He has been called “the doctors’ lawyer” because of his representation of physicians, nurses, dentists, and chiropractors with licensure issues, negligence claims, employment matters, fraud and abuse allegations, and other concerns.
Garcia is committed to the Latino community in Southwest Detroit, and he represents individual clients and litigates cases on behalf of community-based organizations, especially when discrimination against the Latino community is at issue.
“I like any case that will put me in front of a jury,” confesses Garcia.  “The drama of a courtroom and the chance at victory in the form of a verdict—those things supply a kind of excitement that you cannot get anywhere else.”
For almost a year, Garcia has served as counsel to the community plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed under the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) to oppose the proposed Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) that would displace or otherwise negatively impact residents, businesses, and employees in the Delray neighborhood.
“It is a great honor to have a chance to argue on behalf of underprivileged minority citizens in Delray and Southwest Detroit. They deserve more consideration than they receive, and I think it is a great shame that, despite clear evidence of past exploitation of communities of color, our government continues to select neighborhoods like these for huge projects that involve tremendous, adverse environmental impacts.”
With an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Duke University, Garcia credits Professor Martin P. Golding for inspiring him to go on to pursue a law degree, which he earned from the University of Michigan.
“He was a great teacher—straight out of central casting with a pipe and a tweed jacket.  His lectures got me interested in coursework offered only through the law school, and once I had attended a few of those classes, I resolved to go to law school.”
Golding will be proud to know his former student has gone on to be more than just a successful attorney.  Garcia actively supports Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED), a social service organization that has helped Latinos, including Garcia, advance professionally and socially.
“In Spanish, ‘la sed’ means ‘the thirst,’” explains Garcia.  “I always found this name so misleading.  LA SED fulfills the needs of so many people in Mexicantown and Southwest Detroit, assisting with classes in English as a second language, tax preparation, domestic abuse concerns, youth programs, and care for seniors. Whatever people lack or thirst for in Southwest Detroit, LA SED is there to help them. That includes me and my desire to speak for Latinos in Michigan who may lack a voice of their own.”
Garcia is immediate past president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan, and he serves as chair of the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan as well as the Latin American Bar Activities Section of the Michigan State Bar.  
Garcia garnered the congratulations of his supporters upon receiving the Professionalism Award at the OCBA Annual Meeting in early June.  However, additional congratulations will be in order for his next momentous occasion that will take place later this summer.
“I will be married to the love of my life on August 2 in a civil ceremony in an Oakland County court,” he says.