O'Reilly Rancilio attorney J. Russell LaBarge Jr. recently celebrated his 50th anniversary with the State Bar of Michigan during a Sept. 27 ceremony honoring longtime members. On Dec. 11, 1969 LaBarge was admitted to the State Bar. “50 years. I can’t believe it. It seems like everything went by in a flash,” he said.
LaBarge specializes in municipal law and is now serving as the Richmond Township attorney and as the Macomb County Public Administrator. In addition to governmental law, LaBarge concentrates his practice in probate and estate planning. In 2017 he was hired by O’Reilly Rancilio to serve as of counsel.
In the past, LaBarge served as city attorney for both Harper Woods and Roseville. He’s proud to say that distinguished law professionals, including judges Lawrence P. Zatkoff, Mark S. Switalski, Joseph Boedeker, and Catherine Steenland worked at LaBarge, Zatkoff and Dinning, the Roseville-based firm where he served as shareholder. He also worked as partner with his son attorney Jay LaBarge at Bellanca LaBarge PC in Harper Woods. His daughter Aimee also pursued a career in the legal field.
The low point of his career, and probably the most shocking, was the 1980 murder of his partner Tom Dinning on the steps outside of their Roseville law firm. The crime remains unsolved.
LaBarge became an attorney because his father, J. Russel LaBarge, also worked as a lawyer. He had considered pursuing a career as a Catholic priest and even attended the Sacred Heart Seminary for one year.
When he’s not working, LaBarge enjoys golf, swimming, and travel. He and his wife Susan will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in February.