A key defender, Lawrence was used as both a centre half-back and fullback during his career. Lawrence was a North Melbourne player from Colts level and broke into the seniors for the first time in 1948. He was a regular member of the side from 1950 to 1955, playing 105 of a possible 109 games. In the 1950 VFL Grand Final, which North Melbourne lost to Essendon, Lawrence played as the 19th man. He represented the VFL at interstate football in 1952 and was captain of North Melbourne in 1955, his final season.