From the Produce Aisle to the Courthouse

Juan Garcia started out in supermarkets and ended up in Super Lawyers

Published in 2010 Texas Rising Stars — April 2010

Whether Juan Garcia is bagging groceries or bagging victories in the courtroom, it’s tough for anybody to outwork him.

“I was always afraid other people were going to be a lot smarter and more capable than I was,” Garcia says. “There may be people smarter and with more life experience out there; but nobody is going to outwork me.”

When he was 16, Garcia went to a Kroger grocery store to apply for a job and was hired as a sacker on the spot. “They threw an apron at me and I worked until midnight, without any interview or training,” he recalls.  “It was meant to be just a high school job but I’m the kind of guy that just does one thing and sticks with it.”

Stick with it he did. Garcia was promoted through the meat and produce departments before choosing to make a career out of it. He decided to go to college at the University of Houston–Clear Lake to earn a degree that would qualify him for company advancement. He earned a B.S. in accounting and became the first in his family with a college degree.

That degree qualified Garcia for the management program at Kroger. He served as an assistant manager for four years, making $24,000 the first year. He was working 70-hour weeks and it was paying off. Garcia found himself advancing through Kroger’s hierarchy, achieving promotions to store manager and bigger and better stores. He finally rose to manage a large Kroger store in Texas. At 32, Garcia was earning an $80,000 salary. 

But he longed for more challenge and fulfillment. Despite being highly regarded at Kroger, Garcia felt there was no longer a satisfying future at the chain. After 14 years with the company, he chose to go back to school and become an attorney.

It was a big decision. Losing his income with two children at home was risky.

His wife, Belinda—and credit cards—supported the family for two years as advertising director at The Angleton Times newspaper while Garcia attended law school. In 2004, at age 34, he graduated with his J.D. from South Texas College of Law. He was hired by Thompson & Knight, where he interned during law school, just before his wife lost her newspaper position. He specializes in commercial litigation and personal injury defense.

Garcia knew his work ethic would suit him well in the new career path. And he continues to thank Kroger for giving him an invaluable experience. “The most important thing I was doing at Kroger was dealing with employees and the problems they had,” Garcia says.

Dealing with those issues helped him learn to communicate and solve problems, skills he uses daily in communications with opposing counsel and clients. Garcia also believes his experience gave him—and the firm—the confidence to take on a higher level of responsibilities than other new young lawyers.

He served as the moot court coach at South Texas College of Law for three years, sits on the board of directors for the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston and is on the Legal Advisory and Go Tejano Committees for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, one of the largest rodeos in the world.

Garcia is proud of his new career and the path he took to get there. Based on his track record, he will be with Thompson & Knight for the long haul, “for as long as they will keep me,” he says.

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