Lawrence is in his 50th year of advising on and litigating employment law and civil rights matters. He is nationally recognized for his class-action and test validation expertise and has been acclaimed by the National Law Journal as the “Dean of the Management Class Action Bar.” He has tried more employment and employment selection class actions to judgment than any other management lawyer in the country, including some of the largest cases tried to date. Lawrence has been counsel of record in over fifty U.S. District Courts around the country and tried cases in over twenty.
His honors and offices include the Anti-Defamation League’s first Judge Elbert Tuttle Distinguished Jurisprudence Award in 1998 and election to its Southeastern Regional Board in 2009, induction as a Fellow into both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Founding Director and Executive Committee member of the American Employment Law Council. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University (1962), cum laude from Harvard Law School (1967), and is admitted to practice in Georgia and the District of Columbia, as well as numerous federal trial and appellate courts around the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Lawrence is the Northern District of Georgia’s representative on the Lawyer Conduct and Discipline Committee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (2001 to date), having previously served on the Disciplinary Committee for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Lawrence’s civil rights practice is 15-20% representation of plaintiffs and the balance defendants. Test validity and other employment selection issues are over one-third of his practice. Lawrence was the sole “Star Individual” in Chambers USA’s 2010, 2011, and 2012 Listing of Labor and Employment lawyers in Georgia. He was named Atlanta “Litigation and Labor and Employment Lawyer of the Year” for 2012 by Atlanta Best Lawyers. He continues to be listed by vote of Georgia lawyers as one of the top 100 lawyers in Georgia.
Lawrence has served as Management Co-Chair of the EEO Law Committee of the ABA’s Labor and Employment Law Section. He was a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Georgia for employment and civil rights law for 17 years.
Lawrence is a Master, Bleckley Inn of Court (1990 to date) and serves on its Executive Committee. He remains an active participant and member in several professional organizations and civic activities, including the Board of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. He is a Council Member of the Harvard Law School Association (1994-1998, 1999 to date) and serves as its Southeastern Regional Representative (1999 to date). Lawrence is a founding Board Member and on the Executive Committee of Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights. He served on active duty in the U.S. Navy on a destroyer, 1962-64, and received his honorable discharge as a Lieutenant, USNR. Lawrence co-chaired Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s Transition Committee in 2009-2010.
Since March 2011, Lawrence has served as Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland to the State of Georgia and has been reappointed to serve until November 2020.
Lawrence was the first Caucasian member of the Gate City Bar Association (1971) and the first Caucasian President of the Atlanta Urban League (1977-80). In 2009 Lawrence was inducted into the Gate City Bar Association Hall of Fame. In 2012 he was awarded the Greater Atlanta Urban League’s Legacy Champion Award. In 2015, Lawrence was recognized by the State Bar of Georgia and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights with a Civil Rights Milestone Certification for his participation in and contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for equality and integration of African-American citizens in Georgia.
- 95% of over forty-eight years of law practice has been in jury and non-jury civil disputes and litigation, focusing on employment, labor, and civil rights matters.
- Has averaged three trials and arbitrations each year and a class action trial every five years.
- AMAE v. State of California, et al. (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) – Lead trial counsel in the largest class action employment claim tried to date. Decision affirmed en banc by the Ninth Circuit, which held state teacher certification test subject to Title VII regulation, but, because it tested basic skills, sufficiently related to teaching to withstand disparate impact claims.
- EEOC v. Rite-Aid (N.D. Ga. 2012) – Lead counsel for defense in grant of summary judgment and holding that a successor employer lawfully refused to continue granting an accommodation made by predecessor in connection with seated cashiers.
- Elrod v. Sears, Roebuck (11th Cir. 1991) – On appeal, obtained favorable reversal based on principle that employer only needs to have a reasonably-held belief in the basis for making an adverse employment decision.
Professional and Civic Involvement
- Professional Involvement:
- State Bar of Georgia
- District of Columbia Bar
- Gate City Bar Association
- Atlanta Bar Association
- American Employment Law Council
- Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
- Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
- Court Disciplinary, USDC, N.D. Ga. (1992-1996)
- N.D. Ga. Member of the Committee on Lawyer Qualifications and Conduct, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (2001 – present)
- Master, Bleckley Inn of Court (1990 – present)
- Civic Involvement:
- Board, Piedmont Park Conservancy
- Chair, Mayor’s Committee for Atlanta City Attorney Selection (2002 and 2006)
- Chair, Ivan Allen Society, United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta (2006-2007), Campaign Cabinet (2008), and Leadership Giving Executive Committee (2009 to date)
- President, Atlanta Urban League (1977 – 1980)