GETTING TO KNOW: Derrick E. George


Attorney Derrick George has served hundreds of individuals and business owners from Detroit and Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties, with a broad variety of legal matters, and has won hundreds of cases.

George, a resident of Birmingham, holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, a master’s degree from Columbia University, and his law degree from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. While in Colorado, he served as a judicial law clerk for two major judges, and did contract legal work with high-level U.S. Fortune 500 companies. After law school, George returned to Michigan, and opened his private law practice in Birmingham. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, Oakland County Bar Association, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

His background in business prior to law school includes management of large investment funds in New York City, and media experience with ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, and 20/20.

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

What would surprise people about your job?
How much skill outside of legal knowledge this job demands. After 10 years of practicing law, I have realized that to really be successful at it I need to be business-minded, act as a consultant, problem solve, be compassionate and sympathize with people, negotiate, act as a liaison between multiple parties, build relationships AND have implicit knowledge of the law.

Why did you become a lawyer?
I already had a graduate degree and was working in commercial real estate development when my dad, who was a business owner, asked me to become a lawyer and offered to help me get through law school. Reason being he felt he couldn’t find an attorney who would consistently have his back and when you own your own business, you are often faced with problems that need to be handled by or with the help of attorneys. That resonated with me. I get it—lawyers are something people don’t want but need, and they should make you feel and prove to you that they believe in you and have your best interests as their primary focus. 

What’s your favorite law-related TV show, movie, and/or book?
I love anything O.J. Simpson trial related. It is so interesting to learn about the strategies the prosecution and defense deployed.

Who are your law role models – real and/or fictional?
Johnny Cochran had a lot of flair that you can’t often bring into this profession. So from an entertainment standpoint I like his style. It’s not something I can necessarily implement into my own cases, but he was one of the most creative attorneys I have seen.

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be?
Jimmy Fallon or any Michigan Supreme Court justice.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school?
Be the best in whichever school you choose, pass the bar, and start getting the practice. Being successful comes from jumping in and doing it.

What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer?
At my first trial, I obtained a “not guilty” verdict after a five-day trial for a 20-year felony my client was incarcerated for.

What do you do to relax?
Catch up on my sleep although that’s hard now that my wife and I have a baby! I love being outside when the weather is warm and when I can spare the time, a vacation is the ultimate way to relax.

What do you wish someone would invent?
I see all these amazing baby things now like electronic swings and strollers and I wouldn’t mind if they came in adult versions.

What other career path might you have chosen?
I have owned successful companies and was adept in the commercial real estate business so I could see either of those continuing if I hadn’t done law.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
Stop playing quarters in the alley of the Chinese restaurant.

Favorite local hangouts?
Phoenicia and Bistro Joe’s and Wright and Company are some of my favorites.

Favorite websites?
Amazon, CNN.

Favorite app?
Facebook, Instagram or Avvo to check on my client testimonials—LOL.

Favorite music?
Really anything but country music.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
First family trip to Boyne.

What is your most treasured material possession?
A 1978 vintage Rolex.

What has been your favorite year so far and why?
It has to be 2017. I have a kid now!

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been?
Maui, Hawaii for two weeks with my wife on our honeymoon. I also traveled extensively to Brazil and China and there are some amazing spots.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
The ability to fly because it would make taking vacations way easier.

What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?
I would like to learn how to sail.

What is something most people don't know about you?
I’m of Chaldean descent. No one would ever guess because of the red hair. That, and I can quote every line from the Chevy Chase movie “Fletch.”

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Jimmy Kimmel

What’s the best advice you ever received?
Don’t lose sight.

Favorite way to spend money?
On travel.  

What is your motto?
Learn from the past, plan for the future by focusing on today.

Which living person do you most admire?
Warren Buffett.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I’m answering this question fresh off of having a baby so I would have to say that, and marrying my wife.

What is the most unusual thing you have done?
I met my wife on October 5 and asked her to marry me on October 31. That seems pretty unusual. Although the more people I tell that story to, the more I learn others have had similar relationship paths. When you know, you know.

What is one of your future goals?
I plan to write a book about my business experiences and share the injustices I have discovered within our not-so-perfect system. After my dad died at age 52, I started a consumer product company right out of law school, with nothing more than an idea and a 10K loan from my grandma at 8 percent interest. I got sued by a Forbes-listed billionaire as a strategy to take out his competition—the billionaire figures you hose the small guy down with legal technicalities and tie them up in court they will eventually go out of business, cheaper than acquiring them and a way around anti-trust law. I figure I must have been doing something right.