Geary honored for excellence in defense



by CynthiaPrice
Legal News

The MDTC (Michigan Defense Trial Counsel) gave a number of awards on March 8 at the Gem Theatre in Detroit.

The annual Excellence in Defense award is designed to “honor those civil defense counsel who have over a number of years through their professionalism, intelligence, creativity, judgment, personality, sensitivity, civility, advocacy skills, community involvement and efforts to educate younger attorneys, promoted the practice of the defense bar and the representation of their clients both in and outside of the courtroom. It also recognizes contributions beyond their normal roles as an advocate.”

So it is no surprise that local attorney Patrick F. Geary, who practices at Smith Haughey Rice and Roegge, is this year’s honoree.

“MDTC is one of the preeminent legal organizations in the state,” Geary commented,?“so it is really a great honor to get this award.”

Geary himself can take at least partial responsibility for how well MDTC operates, since he was the president from 2000-2001. However, he praises Executive Director Madelyne Lawry for doing a great job, and there have been many other well-known and effective presidents over the years since its founding in 1979 – some of them from his own firm.

Smith Haughey has a long history of leadership in MDTC, and both Roland “Bud” Roegge and William Jack have won the Excellence in Defense Award since it began in 1992.

After receiving his B.A. (with high honors) from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. (with honors) from University of Michigan Law School, Geary practiced for several years in Chicago. He came to the Grand Rapids area in 1990, and has always been with Smith Haughey.

He is currently the firm’s President and General Counsel and chairs its product liability department. He served as Chief Executive Officer from 2003 to 2009.

Geary’s practice consists of representing clients in business and corporate litigation and advising clients on risk management issues, as well as helping them shape contracts that limit liability. He also represents insurance companies and  other businesses in cases involving the scope of insurance coverage. He is qualified to mediate for the Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan.

In addition, speaking to the “promoting the practice of the defense bar” aspect of the Excellence in Defense Award, Geary has taken a large role in other professional organizations. He was Grand Rapids Bar Association President from 2015-2016, and served on the GRBA?Board of Trustees from 2010 to 2015. He is a fellow of both the American Bar Foundation, the Legal Assistance Foundation, and the Michigan State Bar Foundation, as well as a member of the Kent County circuit Court Business Court Advisory Committee and the Product Liability Advisory Council. Geary is also a life member of the Grand Rapids Justice Foundation.

Geary’s wife Patty, with whom he has four children, accompanied him to the award ceremony – only the second year MDTC?has had an official event to honor the recipients.

MDTC exists to promote excellence in civil litigation and to “enhance and promote the Defense Bar, facilitate greater exchange of view and advance the interests of civil defense attorneys.” It does so in a number of ways, including amicus briefs, its quarterly publication, seminars and other events. MDTC provides networking opportunities with fellow attorneys, potential clients, and judges.

MDTC?boasts over 530 members.

At the March 8 banquet, others who won awards included:

—The MDTC Judicial Award of Excellence, which “commend[s] one or more state or federal judges for their service to and on behalf of the state civil bar, the legal profession, and the public,” went to Hon. Michael J. Riordan of the Michigan Court of Appeals.

—The Golden Gavel Award goes to a member of the MDTC’s Young Lawyers Section “who exemplifies significant contribution to professionalism and courtesy in the practice of law and by promoting the image and honorable reputation of the profession,” and was given to Kyle N. Smith of Collins, Einhorn, Farrell PC.

—The inaugural John P. Jacobs Appellate Advocacy Award, established in 2017 “to honor those civil appellate attorneys who have displayed the vigorous ethical representation of their clients in and outside the courtroom, and displayed themselves to be the best of the very best in appellate advocacy in state and federal courts,” was given to John P. Jacobs himself. Jacobs practices with Jacobs and Diemer in Detroit.
Smith Haughey Rice and Roegge was a sponsor of the awards dinner.