I was the first in my family to graduate from college. My decision to become a lawyer was influenced by my upbringing and desire to assist people on the fringes of society. Over my career, I have performed pro-bono immigration and estate planning work, in addition to my main practice of insurance defense. I always looked up to my maternal grandmother, who was a very devout Catholic and a kind, hardworking Hispanic woman.
Her daughter (my mother, Maximiliana “Cristina” Ramos) was born in San Miguel Zapotilan, Jalisco, Mexico, in 1945. Cristina relocated to Tijuana, Mexico, and took a job as a nurse, caring for my paternal grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Lawrence, who was suffering with cancer. They eventually moved back to Redlands, California, where Cristina assisted with Sarah’s care until Sarah passed away in 1967. Although I never knew my paternal grandmother, the time I had with my maternal grandmother was special. It was from my family that I learned that hard work and perseverance pay off in the end.
My father, Chuck Lawrence, and Cristina were married in 1968. She learned English herself and taught her children Spanish, too. Together, they raised their family in Big Bear Lake, California, and owned Oak Knoll Lodge, which had been in the Lawrence family since 1927.