Most people would say that what Shannon Smith does is impossible.
Her clients come to her in a state of panic. Terrified to know they are staring down the barrel of decades in prison, including mandatory 25-year sentences that can be stacked. Devastated that they may lose their children to Child Protective Services. And furious that based on the word of a complainant alone – with no other evidence – their life could be destroyed. But after doing criminal sexual conduct cases for the better part of 16 years, Shannon has her own way of doing things. She realizes that these cases are not like other criminal defense cases.
In the #metoo era, many people think all allegations must be automatically “believed.” The prosecutions are aggressive and ruthless, and the mantra that most defense lawyers stick to in other kinds of cases – sit back, be quiet, and simply defend – does not work.
For example, most criminal defense lawyers have a blanket rule that the accused should never speak to law enforcement. Shannon, on the other hand, has taken many clients in to make a statement and tell their side of the story. At Shannon Smith Law, there is no “sitting back” and playing defense. Instead, Shannon has found success by taking the kind of investigative deep dive that few have the skills and resources for. The firm’s relationship with top experts around the country allows the defense to get ahead of the case. Instead of starting from scratch to study the science that can help defend sexual allegations, Smith Lehman is already ten steps ahead.
Many clients have sought Shannon out in the past wanting a “strong female lawyer” on their side. What they didn’t realize is that they were getting not only that, but a lawyer who has precise strategies no matter what the case looks like. Shannon’s ability, creativity, and experience gives the accused the best chance – and at the same time, gives them a sense of hope and security that things will get better.
And over the past few years, Shannon Smith Law clients don’t only get Shannon on their side, but an incredible team of fierce advocates. Make no mistake about it, while these cases involve the highest stakes, Shannon and her team love that about the work. There is nothing like watching the energy shift in the courtroom when jurors, the judge, and even the prosecutor, finally understand the truth about a case.
She frequently speaks at national events, often being asked to be the keynote speaker to address audiences about representing the “damned and despised.” Shannon loves knowing that her work and teaching helps other lawyers defend even more people. And while Shannon has won countless awards, what matters to her most are the texts of appreciation that show up on her cell phone every Thanksgiving and Christmas from past clients and their families. There is nothing like getting a photo of a family that was once torn apart back together on a holiday. The gratitude for saving her client’s lives and their families keeps Shannon going.
And all of that is what makes her work not only possible, but brings success to the firm as well. While it may be too much for other lawyers, Shannon’s work is not impossible.