Mary Ellis Lagarde, a partner with the Lagarde Law Firm in Houston, says her No. 1 job is seeking justice. And she does that in several different ways. In addition to being a nationally acclaimed trial attorney, Lagarde has a secret weapon — she wields a paintbrush in the cause of justice. An artist, she recently painted a lady justice for her law firm’s reception area. “Lady Justice is literally battling the blazes of injustice as she stands ready to defend,” Lagarde says of her work.
“There is nothing more rewarding than helping my clients and their families — who have often suffered silently against wrongdoers — seek real-life justice,” Lagarde says. “It may sound corny but their voices often fall upon deaf ears and it is my obligation to help them be heard.” She’s handled cases involving horrifically injured children, mothers who have lost their unborn children, husbands with paralyzed wives and survivors of brain injuries.
In one of Lagarde’s highest-profile cases, she filed the first national class action suit against Ford and Firestone for the nationally publicized tire tread cases. “I already had several clients in my Florida firm that had suffered from injuries and deaths [of family members] resulting from rollovers and tread separations when the media revealed the defects to the nation,” Lagarde says. “The phone rang off the hook at our firm. After fielding hundreds of calls, I realized — and was appalled by — the number of ordinary folks who suffered as a result of this senseless defect scenario.”
After taking her cases, she began a thorough investigation of the tire industry, various government agencies, and government and industry tire standards. She consulted with experts, auto insurance companies and many other attorneys before concluding that something had to be done to save lives.
“This was an enormous learning experience that changed my life forever,” she says. “The most rewarding part of all of this was to know that I helped to get the message out to the public to raise awareness and reduce the injuries and deaths.”
While she has limited time for her art these days, she says she yearns for the peace she gets from painting.
“Painting,” she says, “is a journey into light, balance, color and, most importantly, a passion for peacefulness and sanity.”