For Larry McDougal, family has formed the framework of his life. From his upbringing to his role as father and husband, to his work as a criminal defense attorney at his eponymous law firm, McDougal has applied the Christian principles ingrained in him as a child.
“Most people don’t know their hero, but I was raised by mine,” says McDougal. “He was a WWII veteran who fought in multiple bloody campaigns. He earned three bronze stars. And he raised me in a very religious Baptist home – no drinking, no cussing.”
His dad worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week managing a store in El Campo, and McDougal applied his dad’s work ethic to his own life. While working as a police officer, he put himself through college. His plan was to seek an advanced degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston University, but the department head saw his potential and encouraged him to go to law school instead. He scored high on his LSAT, entered South Texas College of Law, and in 2 ½ years, graduated cum laude.
McDougal never stopped working, first as a police officer, a firefighter, then as a law clerk. From there it was straight to the Harris County District Attorney’s office, where he worked as both a prosecutor and a criminal investigator. Eventually, he started his own practice, where he’s tried cases dealing with everything from car accidents and divorces to criminal cases and defending Police Officers. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
The numbers are impressive. He’s been an attorney for 33 years. He’s been married to his wife Karen for 45 years, and she has been a paralegal at his firm for the past 25 years. They are joined by Larry McDougal, Jr., whose first job out of law school was with his dad.
McDougal chuckles when he remembers how it all began. “Larry Jr. played golf at UT Tyler and wanted to be a pro golfer at the time. One day he went with me when I was trying a case, and as we’re walking out of the courthouse, he said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ He came back home his senior year and finished at UH then went right into law school, and just like me, he held down a job and still finished in 2 ½ years.”
McDougal and his wife also have three daughters – all went into teaching, where one still remains, and two have gone on to become assistant principals. Five grandkids round out the family.
McDougal says all of it – the professional and the personal – is grounded in his Christian principles. Especially in regard to working in criminal defense, he says, “Everyone deserves a second chance. The majority of those who walk in my office are good people who made a bad decision. I try to do the best I can for them, so that one poor decision doesn’t cost them their jobs or families. The purpose of the law is to change people’s behavior, so they don’t commit another crime. So, I’m trying to help these people by emphasizing to them what they did wrong, but then giving them an opportunity to get their lives back on track.”
He adds that many people who wind up in criminal court are innocent but aren’t being heard. “There’re always two sides to every story. It’s my job to tell that other side.” He shares an example of representing a woman who had been abused for years and finally had enough. She fought back, killing her husband, and McDougal made sure she was protected in her right to defend herself.
His accomplishments have been confirmed by the countless awards and honors he’s received, first as an officer and now as an attorney. He was the only prosecutor in 1992 recognized by Gulf Coast MADD, in 2019 his fellow lawyers elected him president of the State Bar of Texas, and, he has twice won the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Presidents’ Award.
McDougal has never slowed down. He frequently hears from people he has helped who are now thriving. One day, while sitting in a restaurant, a young lady approached his table. “You represented me when I was a teenager who had picked up drug charges,” she said. “I just want you to know that now I’m in my last semester majoring in business, and I would never have had that opportunity if you hadn’t stood up for me.”
Another client McDougal helped to purge his criminal record called to announce that the experience encouraged him to become a lawyer himself. He just graduated from law school on the east coast and is now working for a big firm in Houston.
It’s clear that McDougal’s journey has made an impact, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” has been his motto.
To learn more about the services McDougal Law provides, please visit their website at www.larrymcdougal.com/ or call (281) 238-8500.