Lawyer and father Marshall Searcy receives honor

By Marice Richter As the first Fort Worth attorney to be selected for the prestigious Ronald D. Secrest Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award, Marshall Searcy is circumspect about the honor. It is not that he isn’t proud or humbled by the award. It is just that he is loath to claim the credit for himself. “I think, and have always felt, that any recognition I get is the result of teamwork,” Searcy said. “I am fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful, talented people. I recognize that I need all the help I can get and always have.” The award is given annually by the Texas Bar Foundation to recognize a trial lawyer for high ethical and moral standards and exceptional professional conduct. The award was named in memory of Ronald D. Secrest, a trial lawyer and partner in the Houston firm of Beck, Redden & Secrest. The Secrest Award is the latest accolade for Searcy, who has been practicing law in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for more than 40 years. He has tried hundreds of cases throughout Texas and the United States, mainly focusing on commercial litigation, legal malpractice defense and personal injury defense. Searcy is a life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and was elected in 1990 as a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, an organization of leading trial lawyers who are invited to join. He is also a member of a similar organization, the American Board of Trial Advocates. Searcy, 67, said the Secrest award is the biggest honor he has received. “I’m truly humbled by it,” he said. “It’s very gratifying but I really feel that a lot of the credit goes to the fine men and women that I have the opportunity to work with.” Colleagues and others aren’t surprised that Searcy was chosen. “I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor,” said Judge Bonnie Sudderth of the 352nd District Court in Tarrant County. Dee Kelly Jr., managing partner of Kelly, Hart & Hallman, where Searcy is a partner, said the award recognizes Searcy’s “very distinguished career.” “Marshall is a great mentor to young lawyers, he is an excellent leader, but what really stands out about him is integrity,” Kelly said. “His word is his bond.” Searcy grew up in rural Collin County and defines himself by his deep Texas roots. Becoming a lawyer was almost by happenstance. “I had an uncle who was a farmer and I worked with him one hot summer,” Searcy said. “He said to me, ‘If you don’t like this work, you should become a lawyer and sit inside in the air conditioning and don’t work too hard’.” Searcy took the advice to heart and attended the University of Texas School of Law, where he graduated cum laude in 1972. Practicing law hasn’t turned out to be easy work but it has been rewarding. He has won many cases during his career, including his defense of numerous major antitrust claims against a major oil company in several jurisdictions. Searcy started his career with a large firm in Dallas but in 1993 decided to relocate to the other side of the Trinity River and settle in Fort Worth. “I really love Fort Worth,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place with wonderful people. I love everything about it.” Searcy still has many clients in Dallas but most of his work is in Fort Worth. He has also handled cases throughout Texas and the United States. He is also proud that his passion for the law has been passed down to two of his seven children. A son, Marshall Searcy of Los Angeles, is an attorney there, and a daughter, Merrill Hoult, is a prosecutor in Modesto, Calif. Despite his professional success and many accomplishments, Searcy said he has no plans to retire. “I’m still in pretty good health and have some degree of acuity so I’m going to keep going,” he said. “I’m sure I wouldn’t like retirement at all.” Searcy and his wife, Annette Searcy, have another small home in Tennessee, which they enjoy visiting. In his limited free time, he enjoys reading and studying Russian history. The Texas Bar Foundation, a charitable organization, will recognize Searcy at its 2013 annual dinner in Dallas in June.“I really can’t say enough good things about Marshall,” Kelly said. “This award recognizes his very distinguished career. He has tried many, many lawsuits and won many of them – he’s been very successful in his career.”   See also: ‘The best thing I have ever done.’