Lauri E. Cleary is a litigator and trial attorney who chairs Lerch, Early & Brewer’s Litigation practice. She represents individual and corporate clients, including religious and other nonprofit organizations and educational institutions, automobile dealers, financial institutions, title insurers and other insurance underwriters.
Lauri handles complex commercial, employment, tort, insurance and white-collar criminal defense matters. For more than 25 years, she has represented auto dealers in operational and franchise matters. She also defends management in employment litigation, including discrimination and wage-hour claims. She helps title insurance underwriters and their insured claimants resolve complex settlement escrow and land title issues. In connection with Lerch Early’s insurance defense practice, Lauri works closely with claims counsel defending a wide variety of tort and commercial litigation claims.
Lauri’s clients call her “a great litigator who isn’t afraid to fight—she can be charming or forceful depending on what the situation calls for” according to interviews by Chambers USA (2010). Lauri also is a highly skilled litigation counselor who shares risk management and litigation avoidance strategies with Lerch Early clients. Determined and energetic, Lauri takes the time to thoroughly understand each client’s denomination, business or industry and to establish an open line of communication, mutual respect and cooperation toward a common goal.
She is admitted to practice in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia, and has successfully managed all aspects of litigating trial and appellate cases before state and federal courts and administrative agencies in all three jurisdictions.
Lauri’s representation of religious organizations has given her the opportunity to take on many cases involving First Amendment religious freedoms, an experience that complements her passionate commitment to the pro bono representation of indigent persons. She received the John Carroll Society’s Pro Bono Service Award in recognition of her representation of the indigent. She chaired the Montgomery County Bar Foundation's Pro Bono Committee and was a member of the Advisory Council of the Archdiocesan Legal Network of the Archdiocese of Washington for several years. Since 2007, Lauri has hosted the Montgomery County Bar Foundation’s local cable access show "Law School for the Public."
Lauri is the recipient of many accolades from her peers in the legal profession. She was named a "Leader in Her Field" by Chambers USA in the field of Litigation: General Commercial, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. In 2014, the Litigation Counsel of America selected her as an LCA Fellow based on her effectiveness and accomplishment in litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels, and on her superior ethical reputation. The LCA is a highly selective trial lawyer honorary society whose membership is limited to less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers. Of the many thousands of lawyers in Maryland, fewer than 70 are LCA Fellows. The Daily Record named Lauri one of Maryland's 50 "Influential Marylanders" and gave her its Leadership in Law award.
Lauri also is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100, an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state. In addition, Lauri was inducted into the Bar Leaders of the Bar Association of Montgomery County. She shares her vast knowledge of employment issues with risk management and human resource professionals throughout the Washington, D.C., region on topics such as sexual harassment, hiring and termination practices and questions of liability for the acts of employees and volunteers.
Lauri earned her Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland. She joined Lerch Early in 1986 after serving as judicial law clerk to the Honorable Howard S. Chasanow (Retired), Court of Appeals of Maryland, then a member of the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Md.
A lifelong resident of Montgomery County, Lauri serves as a lector at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Potomac. She enjoys horseback riding and golf.
- Holloman v. Circuit City Stores, Inc., 391 Md. 580, 894 A.2d 547 (2006)
Honors and Awards
- Listed in Super Lawyers Business Edition (2014)
- Named Chambers USA "Leader in the Field" of Litigation: General Commercial (2010-present)
- Listed in Super Lawyers Maryland, Employment Litigation: Defense (2014)
- Listed in Super Lawyers District of Columbia, Employment Litigation: Defense (2014-present)
- Litigation Counsel of America Fellow (2014)
- National Trial Lawyers Top 100 (2013)
- Named one of Daily Record's 50 Influential Marylanders (2014)
- Received Daily Record's Leadership in Law Award (2009)
- Ranked AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings
- Received Montgomery County Bar Foundation Community Service Award for co-chairing Law School for the Public (2009)
- Inducted "Bar Leader" by Montgomery County Bar Foundation (2007)
- Received John Carroll Society Pro Bono Service Award (2007)
- Maryland State Bar Association
- District of Columbia Bar Association
- Virginia State Bar Association
- Federal Bar Association, Maryland Chapter
- Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland (President-elect, 2015-2016; Executive Committee 2010-2012; Chair, Law School for the Public, 2007- present; former Chair, Pro Bono Committee)
- Montgomery County Bar Foundation (Board of Directors 2012-present, Endowment Committee 2012-present)
- Archdioscean Legal Network (former member of Advisory Council)
- American Bar Foundation (Fellow)
- Interfaith Works (Board of Directors 2015-present)
- Our Lady of Mercy (Lector)