Larry Organ, founder of the California Civil Rights Law Group, has fourteen years of experience as a civil rights attorney. Larry and his firm represent victims of workplace discrimination and harassment, as well as wrongful termination, wage and hour violations, and whistleblower retaliation. After graduating with honors from Duke University School of Law, Larry worked for the federal government in the Honors Program for New Attorneys. He left Washington D.C. to return to the Bay Area, where he had received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He worked at a civil rights firm in San Francisco now called Rosen, Bien & Galvan before opening the California Civil Rights Law Group in 2005.
Larry served as appellate counsel in the groundbreaking sexual harassment case, Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 1128. This case garnered worldwide attention when a legal secretary won $7.1 million dollars from the world’s largest law firm.
- When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?
I read Irving Stone’s “Clarence Darrow for the Defense” when I was in 7th grade and I knew I wanted to be a trial lawyer. The way Mr. Darrow stood up against the railroads on behalf of the everyday worker and the way he championed justice made me realize that I too wanted to help regular people.
- If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?
Prior to going to law school, I worked in politics running campaigns and working in various politicians’ offices. Most likely I would have kept working in government.
- What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?
Don’t panic or overreact. As a new attorney, I remember sweating the smallest issues because I wasn’t confident about what I was doing. But as you get experience, you realize that staying calm is perhaps the most important skill a lawyer can develop. Almost every mistake has a remedy, and you need to make sure that you keep your composure and your temper in check.
- What is the biggest challenge facing you as a lawyer today?
The attack on the jury system. Between the constricted court resources at the state level, the tort reform movement throughout our country, and the deference our Supreme Court has shown to arbitration, there is an all-out attack on the jury system as we know it. It is harder to get to a jury trial today than perhaps at any time in the history of our Republic. As lawyers, we should understand that the right to a jury trial was secured as an ultimate check on the corrupting influence of power and money. We need to fight for that important right every day.
- What is your favorite part of being a lawyer?
I love trial. I like the challenge of the contest and the majesty of the proceedings.
- What is your dream vacation?
Egypt, Greece, Italy and Turkey. I am interested in ancient civilizations, and I studied Anthropology while attending Berkeley as an undergrad. I’d love to tour as many ancient ruins as possible.
- What are you reading now?
“Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles, and “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela.
- What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
When I did a Master’s Degree in Politics in Australia, I played quarterback for the national champions in the American Gridiron League. We played American rules football without pads.
- What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?
Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Why do you choose to be a member of the ACBA? What is the greatest benefit you have enjoyed as a member?
I find the CLEs to be extremely helpful, and they also help me meet my State Bar requirements.