Q&A With Todd Shapiro

A Passion For Criminal Law: Q&A With Todd Shapiro

If you are facing criminal charges, getting a strong defense attorney to fight for you and your rights is absolutely critical. At the Shapiro Law Firm, we are well known for providing this service and are honored that clients come to us for it.

But how does someone develop the uncommon combination of legal skills, personal character and ability to handle pressure needed to be a successful defense attorney?

This piece will explore that question through a Q&A with one of the Dallas area's most highly recognized defense attorneys, Todd Shapiro, two decades into his legal career.

FindLaw: Let's start with your experience as a prosecutor for Dallas County. How valuable was that?

Todd Shapiro: It was invaluable.

FindLaw: How so?

Todd Shapiro: Law school doesn't teach you how to practice law or be a lawyer. Working as a prosecutor for the Dallas DA's office enabled me to learn how to evaluate and resolve cases, to get the crucial experience of being in the courtroom, developing skills like presenting or objecting to evidence. In short, I learned how to be a trial lawyer.

FindLaw: Why was the DA's office such a good fit for this?

Todd Shapiro: Nowhere else but the DA's office can you get this level of experience, handling a full range of cases, from simple misdemeanors to the most complex felonies. This is especially true here in Dallas County, one of the 10 largest in the country with its sheer volume.

FindLaw: What was it like, getting more and more responsibility?

Todd Shapiro: I worked my way up. It took many months, many cases, learning from other lawyers and from myself. Even making some mistakes, as anyone would when learning new skills. But over time, I came to recognize my strengths and limitations and find my own style.

FindLaw: So, when you switched to the defense side, you brought those strengths with you?

Todd Shapiro: Yes. In three years with the DA's office, I had around 150 jury trials, sometimes more than one a week. When I left for private practice, I was ready to use the skills I'd learned to defend the rights of people accused of breaking the law.

FindLaw: When you left the DA's office, you decided to join your father's firm. How has he influenced your legal career?

Todd Shapiro: My parents have given me a great legacy. Growing up, I'd go to my dad's law office, and our family's talk at dinner and in the car always revolved around the law. Before long, I wanted to be a lawyer like my dad. You could say law is in my DNA.

Now that we're practicing law together, I've continued to learn from my dad, including on the business side of the practice. He, in turn, learns from me, making it a unique relationship.

FindLaw: How did you decide to focus on criminal law?

Todd Shapiro: My dad practices mostly family law. But in law school, I realized I owed it to myself to look at all areas of the law. Through that exploration, I learned that I have a passion for criminal law.

FindLaw: What about criminal law is so compelling for you?

Todd Shapiro: Our justice system's respect for rights is one of the hallmarks of making us a such a great civilization. I take the attorney's oath to protect those rights incredibly seriously.

FindLaw: Does it matter whether the accused person is guilty, in terms of how essential it is to defend rights?

Todd Shapiro: Even if someone has committed the crime they are charged with, their rights still need to be protected. Our system demands it, even though it is often a long path from the beginning of a case to the end. That is why, to be effective, a defense lawyer has to be creative and very fact-specific in choosing how to respond to the charges.

FindLaw: How important is all of the experience you've gained over the last 20 years in making those decisions?

Todd Shapiro: It is very important because every day I am drawing on my experience and adding to my library of knowledge about what works - and what doesn't.

After 20 years, there really isn't a scenario I haven't seen multiple times over and had to deal with based on specific facts. I keep asking myself questions like: What will the evidence look like? What do we need to find out? What are the likely outcomes?

FindLaw: Many satisfied clients have given testimonials to the sense of hope, skilled advocacy and favorable results they received from your representation. What would you most like future clients to know, in terms of how you can help them?

Todd Shapiro: I'd want them to know I have a passion for criminal defense work and have trained my entire life to be the very best I can be at it.