Robert Shapiro

That's Vicky with a y, Bob.  But I suppose somebody who says
"I don't give a shit about the Housing Authority" can't be 
expected to spell people's names correctly.
Legal Secretary can Sue Shapiro Over Her Firing
Hmmm, caught for overbilling.  This is right out of The Firm.
(To Pauletta James: You GO, girl. They're racists - in the 80s
his dad threatened to evict me if I rented my spare room to a 
black girl.)

Robert Shapiro Biography

University of Missouri-Kansas city School of Law
A well-known Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, Robert Shapiro 
loved being liked. Shapiro had successfully defended athletes such 
as Jose Canseco, Darryl Strawberry, and Vince Coleman. Despite 
his experience, Shapiro's cases were often ones decided without 
trial on undisputed facts. The only issue in many of these cases 
was punishment, and on this issue Shapiro proved a masterful 
bargainer. His ability at crafting a deal won Shapiro the 
honorific title of "Defense Counsel of the Year" for 1994. 
Shapiro received a note from Judge Lance Ito, who called his 
award "well deserved and overdue." Shapiro told Bailey that he 
approved of Ito as judge of the Simpson case "because Lance Ito 
loves me." 

Robert Shapiro replaced Howard Weitzman as Simpson's defense 
attorney. Shapiro's initial dealings with the LAPD were based on 
trust. Shapiro arranged that if Simpson was to be charged with 
murder, the LAPD would not to arrest him, but rather that Simpson 
would agree to a surrender. When this failed, so did the trust 
between Shapiro and the LAPD. 

Always a fan of the media, Shaprio held numerous press 
conferences, often to discuss the defense team's strategy, and to 
elicit support from the public. 

Determined to hold on as lead counsel despite the powerful 
attorneys he employed for Simpson's defense, Shapiro struggled to 
keep his position. Finally realizing that he had no chance of 
remaining in charge, Shapiro became upset by decisions made by 
members of the defense team without his approval.  Relations 
among defense team members were further strained by press leaks 
by investigators hired by Bailey.  These leaks generally 
portrayed Shapiro in an unfavorable light.  One such leaked 
story suggested that Shapiro had hired a secretary whose sole duty 
was to cut articles from newspapers which had Shapiro's name listed 
in them. His disdain for meeting with clients in jail distanced 
Shapiro from Simpson and allowed Cochran to take his place as 
lead counsel. Shapiro never recovered from his loss of status, 
often turning on his co-counselors with criticism. 

In 1994, at the same time as the Simpson trial, Bailey and 
Shapiro represented one of the biggest marijuana dealers in the 
world.  As part of a plea bargain, the client agreed to turn over 
his assets to the U.S. Government.  Included in his assets were a 
large amount of stock, which increased in value from six million 
to twenty million between the time of the plea and when the 
government attempted to collect.  As the deal was not put in 
writing, a federal judge held a hearing to determine the terms of 
the arrangement.  The lead witness for the government was Shapiro, 
who testified that his understanding of the agreement was that 
the government was entitled to the appreciated portion of the 
stock. When Bailey did not produce the stock or the cash 
equivalent, the judge threw Bailey in jail.  After forty-four
days in a federal detention center, Bailey gave up his claim to 
the stock.  Shapiro told friends with a smile that he paid his 
own way to Florida to testify against Bailey. 

After the trial, Shapiro told reporters that he viewed 
with disgust some of the tactics employed by the defense team. 
Shapiro tried to distance himself as much as possible from these
tactics. Shapiro said in a long-promised interview with ABC's 
Barbara Walters, "not only did we play the race card, we dealt 
it from the bottom of the deck." .

Interview with Robert Shapiro
Why is he famous?

Between representing Linda Lovelace, Johnny Carson, Darryl 
Strawberry, and not to mention his involvement in the 
O.J. Simpson trial, Robert Shapiro has become a household name.

quick bio

There is no shortage of lawyers, but when it comes to attorneys 
who command the utmost attention and respect of the media, peers 
and the public at large -- Los Angeles criminal defense attorney 
Robert Shapiro is second to none. After having graduated from 
UCLA with a degree in Finance, Shapiro eventually ended up as 
a criminal defense attorney, gaining attention from defending
celebrities from all walks of life.

Robert Shapiro's extensive resume includes having represented 
Linda Lovelace in Las Vegas, Johnny Carson in Los Angeles, and 
Marlon Brando's son, Christian. He has also defended baseball 
players Jose Canseco, Darryl Strawberry and Vince Coleman. He 
also represented one of the biggest marijuana dealers in the 
world. He has written extensively on public cases and 
high-profile cases, and lectured on the topic.

Over the course of his career, Shapiro has proven to be a 
master negotiator when punishment was at stake, winning the 
honorific title of "Defense Counsel of the Year" in 1994. 
One of the many that congratulated him for that honor was 
none other than Judge Lance Ito, before whom Shapiro defended 
O.J. Simpson. It was undoubtedly the Simpson trial that made 
Robert Shapiro a household name. The case of the century put 
him on the universal map and reinforced his position as one of 
the most sought after attorneys in the world, now a partner at 
the law firm of Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, 
Weil & Shapiro, LLP.

We managed to catch up with the renowned Mr. Shapiro and 
quizzed him about his profession, his career, 
(his online venture), his new book entitled Misconception, 
and of course, the case.

Robert Shapiro Interview

Q: Whether we like to admit it or not, you have been on some of 
the most high-profile cases; you are successful by any standard -- 
when and how did you decide to get into law?

During my undergraduate training at UCLA, I was studying finance 
and securities; my particular interest was with mutual funds. 
Wanting to get into a high position at some of the companies that 
were doing that, I knew that law would be useful.

Q: How did you slide into law?

The Vietnam War was causing people to get drafted, I had received 
a deferment to finish my undergraduate education, and in order 
to continue to get a deferment, you had to go to graduate school. 
It was simply a deferment because I had to sign a contract saying 
that I would be eligible for the draft up to the age of 35. I 
signed that contract and thought that a legal education would be 
helpful for the career that I thought I was to pursue, which was business.

Q: You were interested in corporate law, and securities law, yet 
ended up in criminal law -- how come?

I was interested in getting courtroom experience. When I was a 
young lawyer, the only way I could get real courtroom experience 
was in the criminal law field. I applied to the agencies that 
were available; the district attorney, for example, the county 
counsel, I received invitations from all of them, but realized 
that I would get the most experience being a prosecutor in the 
district attorney's office. As I learned more from trying cases, 
I was working against defense lawyers who had a lot more 
experience than me... deputy district attorneys had the same 
level of experience.	

Q: What has been one of your earliest successes, or turning points?

In my law career?

Q: Yes, but not limited to... it could be anything in life.

I think that one of the motivating factors was in my last year 
of law school, we had a competition, and I won the competition, 
it was judged by several of the federal judges at the time. I 
got a tremendous amount of encouragement to pursue litigation 
from them at the time... I then was named chief Justice of that
court and that pretty much put me in contact with many more 
judges, getting exposure to a lot more, and that is when I 
realized that it was in the courtroom that I wanted to be in.

Q: Interesting, speaking of the courtroom, do you still attend 
and present your cases or do you delegate, strategize and 

It depends on the client. At this stage, I am a partner at 
Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro, we 
have 120 lawyers, we have a major litigation practice as well 
as a substantial corporate, transactions and real-estate practice,
so it depends on the client, the client's needs... some clients 
come to me because they want my litigation skills, and I come in 
to be the lead lawyer and actually do the trial work on the case. 
In other cases, I strategize and in other cases, I try to 
negotiate, where I am referred to as a troubleshooter.

Q: Troubleshooting is always good... Now, we can beat around the 
bush... you were involved in the trial of the century. I want to 
know, how did that change life for Robert Shapiro, the man and 
the lawyer?

There are several misconceptions. First of all, I had done 
high-profile cases since the 1970s. I had represented people 
as varied as Linda Lovelace in Las Vegas, Johnny Carson in 
Los Angeles. I certainly got a tremendous amount of exposure 
when I represented F. Lee Bailey when he got arrested in 
San Francisco, it was the first time they televised a criminal 
trial. I had tremendous media exposure with Christian Brando, 
and so it wasn't something which someone could say "you came to 
the public attention overnight." I was writing articles about 
public cases and high-profile cases, talking to the media, 
lecturing on the topic. clearly there was no case that was 
comparable to the Simpson trial, but I was on familiar 

As far as changing my career, I do not think it changed much. 
It certainly gave me far more exposure. There are upsides and 
downsides to that. The good thing is that many more people 
recognize you, treat you differently, which is odd. But that 
is positive. The downside is that many feel that you are too 
busy and too expensive, and not interested in their case. 

Q: And as a person, how did it change you?

It certainly made me more aware of my inner strengths, and that 
knowing that the President of the United States was getting 
criticized and being called every possible name, it wasn't too 
bad to be on the same news show.

Q: You mention the misconception about your previous high-profile 
cases, let's forget the cases you have worked on and look at one 
past case that you did not work on. Which one would you love to 
have been working on, and in what capacity?

I would have loved to be a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.

Q: Interesting, no need to ask why, I guess. You mention the public 
and the media. How important is public perception and the media?

I think that public perception plays a role in almost everything in 
our society. From politics to what the news media is going to show.

Q: You've also worked on some cases on drugs and narcotics. If I 
said "drugs should be legalized," would you agree or disagree?

Strongly disagree. The abundance of drugs is one of the primary 
reasons that we have a very high crime rate. I certainly believe 
that drugs have never caused anybody to become a better person. It 
has always caused somebody to have major problems at some time.

Q: I would humbly say that people go to great lengths to get 
drugs; they are going to get them anyway, like they have for 
centuries. criminalizing it creates more crimes for nothing. 
I read that "Mr. Shapiro has a disdain for visiting clients 
in jail." Why?

Generally, people that are in jail can't make bail. So they 
are not the type that would be hiring a lawyer. Also, it is 
very hard to prepare a case with someone who is in jail. It 
is a very time-consuming endeavor and sometimes you have to 
wait a very long time, there may be a lockdown, and you cannot 
see the client.It is certainly a very inconvenient way to have 
a relationship.	

Q: Interesting. I don't mean to and am not trying to dwell on 
the Simpson case, I'm sure that you are fed up with most of 
those questions. However, I do use it as a reference for 
other questions. Because you were not a fan of visiting 
Mr. Simpson in jail, that allowed Johnnie Cochran to emerge
as the lead attorney.

The policy that I have set forth myself is this: once the trial 
started, I did not make any comments regarding the Simpson case. 
I certainly did answer questions regarding the procedures and 
legal questions for the reporting to be accurate, but that is my
policy today. That is an issue in the past that I do not get into.

Q: That's fair. You mentioned studying finance. In finance, the 
market is not measured on whether it is efficient or not. We analyze 
the degree of efficiency: strong, semi-strong or weak. In law, is 
that how you measure the system's efficiency or justice as well?

That is a subject for an entire book. It depends on the city, the 
state; is it a state prosecution, a federal case? Is there a 
judge involved? A jury? There are varying degrees, but like any 
other profession, you have ethical and not-so ethical people.

Q: Well, how would you rate the US's legal system?

I have been working on some international cases, one of a 
Chinese dissident. We were working with the Chinese government 
and I found that was a very, very poor system of justice. Now I 
am working with the Danish government and I am pleased to see 
that there are many elements of the Danish system that I found 
to be superior. One is that witnesses are all sworn to give 
truthful testimony except defendants of federal cases.

Q: How hard is it to work on cases in international law?

Fortunately, we have a large staff. We have tremendous 
research capabilities and lawyers in other countries. It 
is very interesting, very challenging and highly motivating.

Q: What is the top tip for someone in law? Or someone interested 
in pursuing law?

The first, as a general matter, is: a legal education is something 
that is helpful in all types of business endeavors. The Socratic 
method of teaching allows people to learn, to express themselves, 
to question issues in a different manner. That is beneficial in 
life. So if someone is set on a specific career, if they are 
looking at a valuable education, they cannot go wrong with law.

Q: You mentioned perception in media, so it must come as no shock 
to you that some lawyers are scrutinized by the media, and some 
even mocked. As a lawyer, how does that make you feel? What is 
the greatest misconception about lawyers?

I don't think that the public has any idea how hard lawyers have 
to work. Younger lawyers sometimes work six or seven days a 
week, logging 2,500 hours a year.

Q: How do lawyer jokes make you feel?

You know, I have a great sense of humor, so things done in good 
taste are perfectly acceptable. What I do not find acceptable is
people that become political comedians and make a mockery of 

Q: What's your favorite lawyer joke?

There was one. My doctor just told it to me: A client went to a 
very experienced lawyer who had a high billing rate, and asked 
him, "Rather than just getting involved in the overall case, is 
it possible that I can retain you for 2 questions?" The lawyer 
answered, "Yes, what is the second question?"

Q: That's a good one! You mention your billing rate. What is it?

It depends on the client. My standard billing rate through my firm 
is $525 an hour. That can go up depending on whether the case 
involves a lot of travel, and whether it is a civil or criminal 

Q: Using the Simpson case as a reference. When the verdict came out, 
I was in school. The school was predominantly white. To be honest, 
most white people were fairly unhappy, while most blacks were happy 
or proud. Whites felt they were robbed. My question has nothing to 
do with Mr. Simpson, but with society in general: did you expect 
such a racial divide, a dichotomy between the two races?

Well, I've often said in one of my books, The Search for Justice, 
that since the Civil Rights of the 1960s, nothing had polarized 
more than the verdict of the Simpson case. And the reason for that 
was pretty clear to me when Mark Furhman testified, or actually 
gave a statement to a psychiatrist; he was seeking compensation 
for being disabled as a police officer. His reasoning was that 
he wanted to beat up and hurt certain members of ethnic groups... 
Those were not the words he used. So my friends that were 
caucasian said, "I can't believe that this can be true... I 
cannot believe that people think and act that way." 
African-Americans not only believed it, but they experienced 
it firsthand or knew someone who had. I think that is what 
polarized people.

Q: True, but wasn't it the verdict that made that crystal clear... 
or did you sit there and say "Johnnie, F. Lee, this will 
polarize people"?

I was hopeful that the fact that I was a Caucasian lawyer 
representing an African-American who was accused of killing a 
Caucasian woman and Caucasian man, would be a symbol of immunity. 
But I could not have been more wrong.

¿ Quick fact ?
Because of his disdain for meeting with clients in jail, Shapiro 
allowed Cochrane to take his place as lead counsel in the 
O.J. Simpson trial.

Q: Are you more driven by the fame and celebrity status, or is it 
really the law, the debating, the Socratic school of thought? 
What drives you more?

I'm certainly not driven by the celebrity factor. I try to be 
the same person. My friends have all been mostly the same, either 
since grammar school, high school or college. And being in the 
public light has some very beneficial sides to it, but like I 
said before, it has drawbacks too. You have no privacy. When you 
are out with the family especially... it does not bother me, but 
it does [bother] others. I try to be nice to everyone, I answer
virtually all inquiries that people have.

Q: What can people expect from Robert Shapiro in the days to come?

It's funny that you used the term "misconception" often, because 
that is the title of my novel, it deals with a legal thriller, 
courtroom drama, and it has already presold enough copies to make 
it to the best seller's list.

I've also been busy with I founded it about two 
years ago with two other skillful lawyers and computer geniuses. 
It allows consumers to prepare with the help of a computer program 
that provides virtually any legal document at a minimum fee of $60.
And we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Q: Thank you. Anything else you would like to relay to our readers?

I think that people are very, very critical of our legal 
system; unfortunately that criticism is often misplaced because 
most of these people have never stepped into a courtroom. I 
think that people should follow their constitutional and 
legal responsibility of serving as jurors. I think it is as 
important as voting and can help people really understand 
exactly what our legal system is about. Even if a public official 
or policeman announces that someone has been arrested and is in 
fact guilty, people should learn to reserve those questions and 
really put forth the presumption of innocence that should exist 
but sometimes does not.

Q: Would you represent Robert Blake if he called for your services?

I do not want to comment on that... That is exactly what I was 
referring to though.

Q: Final question: you've also represented Jose Canseco, 
Darryl Strawberry and Vince Coleman -- Mr. Shapiro, are you a 
baseball fan?

Actually, I am primarily a basketball fan. I like the Lakers and 
the Sacramento Kings. Also, I am a hockey fan. I like the 
Los Angeles Kings.

Q: Well, Mr. Shapiro, thank you very much for your time. It has 
truly been an honor.

Thanks, I enjoyed the interview.

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