- What’s your name?
David P. Shapiro
- Tell us about you as a person, what did you do before you became a lawyer, any family, hobbies?
I grew up on Staten Island, New York, attended college at the University at Buffalo, then attended law school at Tulane University in New Orleans from 2003-2006. I moved to San Diego the summer of 2006 and became a licensed attorney in California by June 2007. I left the criminal defense firm I worked at from 2007-2010 in April 2010 and opened up my own office. In my spare time, whatever I have of it as the owner and managing partner of a rapidly growing business, I enjoy spending time with my family and doing my best to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- How did you develop an interest in the law in the first place?
Both my older brothers can be credited with getting me exposed to the law. My oldest brother, Anthony, was a prosecutor in Brooklyn and then Staten Island the better part of a quarter-century. My other brother, Chris, was a New York City Police Officer when I was a kid.
- Can you tell us a bit about your path to the law? What was your inspiration to become a lawyer? Was another career ever a possibility?
I always envisioned a career in the law until my first year of college, when I considered a path towards international business. That was short lived, as by the end of my first year of college I was 100% focused on law school and beyond.
- What is your philosophy on being a lawyer?
My firm prides itself on helping good people regain control of their future when charged with a crime. Each day I think about what I went through, first-hand, as an individual arrested for, and accused of, committing a crime in 2004. I had substantial resources, but monetary and the experience of knowing a little bit about the law at the time. Yet I was scared…for my freedom, my future, and my reputation. Our clients face similar fears each day and rely on my Firm to help them get through this terrifying experience.
- Did you have a course or professor in law school that was particularly influential? Who were your early mentors?
Working with Pamela Metzger and Katherine Mattes at Tulane’s Criminal Law Clinic my 3L year, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, was an invaluable experience. Throughout my years as a criminal defense attorney in San Diego, I have learned so much from so many great lawyers I am honored to call my friends. And my brother Anthony served as a mentor for such a large part of my youth through my time in school.
- Do you remember your first trial – did you win or lose and what lessons did you take from it?
I was a law clerk with a firm tasked with handling indigent criminal defense cases on Staten Island. Client was out of custody on bond during trial, but the judge put him in custody after the jury reported being deadlocked, 10-2 in favor of guilt. We later came to find out, after the conviction, two jurors saw the client being transported by the Corrections bus later that day, thought he must have committed another crime, and voted to convict him early the next morning. I think about that case, and that client, frequently. Not because he was innocent, as he was not. But that case, very early on, made me appreciate all that goes on inside a juror’s head when determining whether or not to convict a client, a lot of which having absolutely nothing to do with the weight of the evidence.
- What cases are you working on now, and what trial is next for you?
I just finished a self-defense murder trial in August. Our client, after spending 17 months in custody fighting his case, was acquitted on all charges and was released from jail less than 4 hours after the verdicts were read. So many colleagues have told me to savor that feeling of pride and relief because wins like that one is difficult to come by. I know they are right, but hope I can accomplish something as special as that for another client in the coming months.
- Of your many cases over the years, of which are you most proud and why?
There was a case where the client was favor over 200 years-life if convicted. A colleague and I took over the case. After over one year on the matter, setting the case for trial, the DA came to our client with an offer of 8 years prison. The client rejected it. The DA then offered the client a “credit for time served” offer. The client rejected it, against our advice. The DA dismissed the case a few days later. Last we heard, the client continues to thrive after being given a chance at a life few thought he could ever experience again after first being arrested.
- What do you view as your style as a trial lawyer, and why do you think so many clients hire you for their toughest battles?
I have lived through what so many of our clients go through when first arrested or accused of a crime. I have literally written a book on the topic. I am a product of three of the greatest cities in the country (New York, New Orleans, and San Diego). Members of my family have been prosecutors, cops, state and federal inmates, and criminal defense lawyers. I am far from a “true believer” when it comes to all my clients being innocent, but that’s what gives me my perspective to advocate for my clients at a high level, while never telling them what they want to hear and always telling them what they need to hear.
- Can you share a few aspects of your practice that you find professionally satisfying?
The ability to see a case from beginning to end, knowing that had the client hired a different firm the outcome may not have been as positive. Controlling what cases we accept and what cases we reject as we do not take every case that comes calling, even if the client can afford our fees. We do things differently than most, and our clients appreciate that.
- Name the things that are the most challenging about running a Law Firm or practicing Law. Why?
Balancing time with family and the business. It is tough sometimes to feel like you are succeeding at both and do not have to sacrifice one to thrive with the other.
- If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be doing now?
Scratch golfer, in better shape, but broke and likely unemployed.