We Use Law as a Tool to Help People
In many people’s minds, social work and law are about as related as, say, ketchup and sunglasses. In other words, not at all. But to Marcos Garza, founder of the Garza Law Firm, social work and legal work go hand in hand. The Knoxville attorney earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Tennessee before getting his law degree from UT College of Law.
“I really appreciated the things that I learned, and I enjoyed serving as a counselor for high-risk teenagers,” he says. “But, sometimes it’s hard as a social worker to accomplish everything you want to. So many of the problems people face have some sort of legal issue associated with it. I wanted more tools to help people and their families. Understanding the law is vital to making change.”
The Athens, Tennessee native received his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University before wrapping up his education at UT. Then he joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1999 and served as a Judge Advocate (JAG) and Captain until 2005. After working with other law practices in East Tennessee, he opened his own firm in 2007. The practice, which includes five other active attorneys, retired attorney Dave Beck serving as a consultant, and nine support staff, focuses its work on DUI and criminal defense, personal injury and social security disability cases.
“I enjoy law as a tool to help people,” says Garza. “The rewarding part is when people walk out of your office feeling relieved. Even if the news you’ve given them isn’t good, it’s better than uncertainty. If you deliver it with respect, people can handle serious challenges pretty well, especially when you can lay out a plan on how to deal with a challenging situation.”
There are a few aspects of his practice that Garza believes makes it stand out.
“The way we approach law is very compassionate and empathic,” he says. “People come in feeling uncertain or afraid or judged. Often, they have parents, spouses, and children who are extremely worried as well. We work hard to treat our clients like family and to make them feel nonjudged. We want to be that safe place for them.
“I think we’ve got a really neat mix of incredible people at the firm. We have a diverse group with different specialties and different perspectives.
“The other thing about our practice is we have a full-time, in-house investigator on staff. The ability to marshal the facts is so important to any case. Our default position is that you need an investigator on almost every case. That’s often more important than any lawyer’s brilliance. An investigator is a very valuable thing to have.”
Perhaps it’s his social work background that spurs the Garza Law Firm to get involved in the Knoxville community. The firm has helped local nonprofits, including Amachi Knoxville, The Dream Connection, Fish Hospitality Food Pantries, several local schools, and at least a dozen other nonprofits meet their goals. When the government was shut down in December and January, it offered free legal assistance to furloughed workers affected by the shutdown.
“There’s a lot of overlap between social work and the practice of law,” he said. “I like helping people. This is perfect for me.”
- (865) 540-8300
- 550 W. Main Street, Suite 340
Knoxville, TN 37902