Maggie George has a passion for defending people’s reputations and livelihoods, a common thread throughout her diverse career. Having worked for Congress on Capitol Hill, as a director of training for a Fortune 500 company — and now, as a partner at George Law, a criminal defense and trial litigation firm in Royal Oak with her husband, Derrick George — it’s been a clear path.
After many years of working in other professions, it wasn’t until she met Derrick, already an attorney at that time, that Maggie realized practicing law would help her to winnow in on helping people be seen beyond whatever obstacle they might be facing. Married and with a toddler while helping Derrick build George Law, Maggie earned a law degree from Wayne State University Law School, with a focus on criminal law, defamation and contracts. “I think I bring a level of analysis and inquisition that isn’t typical and it helps me formulate arguments that are hard to rebut and questions that my opposition can’t answer,” Maggie says.
Derrick, too, came to law armed with manifold degrees and experience — after earning a master of science degree in real estate development from Columbia University, he managed large investment funds in New York City and managed programming for ABC World News Tonight and other news shows before earning his juris doctor from Denver University’s Sturm College of Law. Keeping a hand in business interests and a passion for entrepreneurship, he realized that his unique perspective was a needed attribute when negotiating for clients to be represented as a whole person, not just a defendant.
Similarly, Maggie, a criminal defense attorney specializing in DUI/OWI, juvenile defense and felony charges, has a simple approach to the practice of law: To make sure the good in each client comes through in any legal battle they face.
Together, the pair have guided George Law as a small firm with six attorneys to practice with a common philosophy: to give clients a fair chance as a “whole” person while navigating the complex legal system.
“We focus on all kinds of civil and criminal cases,” Maggie says. “Our criminal defense work ranges from misdemeanor substance-use crimes to white-collar felonies. No community is immune from these issues.
“People who find themselves charged with an alcohol-related driving offense or a drug crime are not ‘criminals’ in our eyes,” she says. “This could be a one-off, out-of-character, bad night that someone had. Or we could be dealing with a repeat offender who truly has a dependency issue and doesn’t know how to help him/herself. The people who seek us out for help are running this community. They are doctors, teachers, delivery drivers. We need all of them, day in and out, and our goal is to keep them with us as part of the community as we navigate through their cases, be it civil or criminal.”
While accountability is imperative, of course, the couple believes that it’s equally important to remember that human beings are complex individuals who make mistakes, fall on hard times and sometimes struggle with mental health or addiction. And those people deserve to have their story heard, too.
“I think Derrick brings an absolute fearlessness to this profession,” Maggie says. “Sometimes litigation is a game of chicken and Derrick will be the last man standing, every time.”
In return, she says, “Clients have credited us for their sobriety or addiction recovery. We often won’t take certain cases unless clients get help for themselves to heal from a trauma, or break free from substance dependency — and oftentimes those two go hand-in-hand. But,” she adds, “we have been told that we have saved people’s careers, their lives, their children. One of our client’s even asked us to be his son’s godparents,” a request they turned down for ethical reasons.
In addition to scaling their practice to other states, Maggie says, “Our goals remain to never stop learning in this profession — and to continue to truly help people.”