Q & A with Peter Ganyard
Peter Ganyard was a leading prosecutor in the Collin County District Attorney’s Office before joining The Shapiro Law Firm in August 2021. In the interview below with FindLaw, he talks about the strengths he brings to the firm and the dynamics of moving to the defense bar.
Question: You’re at a pivot point in your career, moving from seven successful years as a prosecutor to join The Shapiro Law Firm as a defense attorney. What is your mindset as you make this change?
Peter Ganyard: This is going to be an incredible opportunity to really use my skills, relationships, and work ethic to help take the Shapiro Law Firm to the next level. Between Todd and myself we’re bringing almost 30 years combined criminal law experience to the table.
Q: What is it about The Shapiro Law Firm that led you to join them?
PG: I’ve always respected Todd and the firm that he’s built alongside his father. He’s incredibly successful, respected by prosecutors across DFW, and someone I’ve admired as an attorney when I worked in the DA’s office. I’ve always said that if I was ever interested in leaving, he would be the first person I would call and we’ve always had a good relationship. He reached out to me this summer and I knew it was meant to be.
Q: In the Collin County District Attorney’s Office, you moved rapidly into positions of more and more responsibility, from misdemeanor prosecutor to misdemeanor chief to felony prosecutor to felony chief. How were you able to make such an important contribution so quickly?
PG: Work ethic, treating people with respect, and being able to take constructive feedback in stride. I believe those three things really helped foster my career and I did my best stick to those three rules as I progressed through the office. This showed itself in key areas such as trial preparation and relating well to victims affected by the cases.
Q: With the DA’s office you handled a full range of cases, working in the Domestic Violence unit, the Crimes Against Children Unit and the Felony Trial team. You’ve handled DWI, assault, sex offenses, white-collar crime, drug offenses and capital murder. Do you find that each type of case has its own specific challenges?
PG: Absolutely, every case is unique. In terms of witness prep you may have everything from detectives that are seasoned veterans to a case involving a child victim and someone that has never testified before. You have to handle those cases completely differently when you are getting ready for trial. Each case has unique evidence issues and challenges, so you have to be able to both prepare well and be ready to adapt on the fly to ensure the case is handled correctly.
Q: As a prosecutor, you handled hundreds of jury and bench trials and thousands of cases. What is the role of going to trial in our justice system and how will your trial skills help you as you move to the defense side?
PG: On the prosecution side going into trial, the goal is to get convictions and protect the record for appeal. On the defense side you are finding holes in the prosecution’s case and creating reasonable doubt. My trials skills I’ve developed will help me on the defense side because I know exactly how that prosecutor is going to prep witnesses, streamline evidence, and argue their cases because I was in their shoes doing the exact same thing.
Q: Joining The Shapiro Law Firm, you’re stepping into a firm with such a strong family legacy. Your own father is a retired Marine Corps colonel?
PG: He is, and a great role model for me. Almost 30 years as a Marine Corps fighter pilot who also transitioned to the private world much like I did. He’s been a great example for me about work ethic and how important it is to wake up and do a job you love every day.
Q: In between your undergraduate years at Clemson and law school at SMU, you worked on Capitol Hill for two years. What did you do there and what did you learn?
PG: I learned about perseverance. I worked closely with former Congressman and Senators and got to be on the ground floor of seeing how it all operates and how relationship building is developed.
Q: And then after law school you took a job as a prosecutor. What is it about the criminal law that you find compelling as a forum for your talents?
PG: It’s cliché, but I tell this to anyone that asks. I saw a Few Good Men in middle school and knew since then I wanted to be a trial lawyer. There’s so many areas of law that are less than thrilling, and the courtroom has always been something that intrigued me. I feel like I can relate well to people and think on my feet, both things that are important in the courtroom.
Q: What is the point that you’d most like potential clients to know about how you can help them?
PG: I’ve been on the other side, I know how a prosecutor ticks. I have that frame of reference for what cases are important to that prosecutor, whether the plea offers are too high, how they are going to prep their cases for trial, and where the holes are in their cases. In addition to this, the relationships I’ve made with the prosecutors on the other side helps to give me credibility in the plea negotiation process. I’ve also been a prosecutor in two specialized units (Domestic Violence and Crimes Against Children) as well as both misdemeanor and felony trial teams so anytime a client wants to hire us, odds are incredibly high that I’ve handled that type of case many times as a prosecutor.