Embrace the Chaos
A Conversation With Attorney Therese Shanks About Lessons Learned & Her Life In The Legal Profession
Attorney Therese Shanks is a litigator in our Reno office where her practice focuses on appeals and litigation matters such as tort law, contract law, complex commercial transactions, employment law, trade secret, real property law and probate and trust. As a working mother, Therese has described her role as the “ringleader of a goat rodeo!”
We recently had the pleasure of talking with Therese about her hectic (and often hilarious) life in the legal profession.
Born and raised in Reno – you’re quickly becoming a rising star in our firm’s northern Nevada office! And although you’re one of the smartest – and funniest people – that I have ever met, you expressed a fear of public speaking before your recent appearance before the Nevada Bar Association. Talk about your experience – and how did you prepare for this assignment?
Well, I wrote a speech, and then I walked around my house talking to myself to memorize it. My kids thought I was nuts, but I wound up feeling very comfortable when the time to speak came because there were only about six people in the room and one of them was Ann Morgan, who kept smiling and giving me thumbs ups.
Without naming your clients, are there any intriguing current matters that you’re working on in the business litigation sector?
I actually am working on a case that is the epitome of busines litigation. I currently represent a block of shareholders who are seeking to compel a shareholder meeting to elect directors.
What would you tell your younger self – or a 1L at the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law now contemplating a career in the legal profession? And also talk about the BLUR that is being the “ringleader of a goat rodeo;” a working mother with two beautiful daughters.
That is a tough one. Probably something super encouraging like “buckle up buttercups” or “embrace the chaos.”
“Embracing the chaos” is a good way to describe motherhood and private practice. I used to have a lot of rules and goals as a mother, but now the only rule I follow is “every one makes it out alive,” and so far that’s been working out well (knock on wood).
Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your life and career?
Justice James W. Hardesty. I interned for him as a 1L, I clerked for him after law school, and I still call him all the time when I need advice.
Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?
My knee jerk reaction is to immediately describe to you all of the (many) mistakes I have made or (many) losses I’ve had, but as I sit here, I do not know that I would classify those as failures.
I don’t think I’ve ever really failed at anything because I would not necessarily travel back in time to change those mistakes or losses. It is the mistakes and losses that, in large part, form who I am because I learn from them, I adapt and I grow.
You’re a thought-leader in Constitutional law. Where does this come from? And have you ever contemplated a career in politics – or life in D.C.?
Oh no, do not sign me up for that. I like my quiet little life and the ability to drink in public very much. Politics are not for me.
I think my fascination with the Constitution comes from growing up with gay siblings. As a youth, it struck me as odd that one written statement governs everyone’s rights in America, yet when you apply the same written words to me and my brothers, my rights were not the same as my brothers’ rights.
What are you currently listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching/streaming?
Current favorite songs: “Brightside,” by the Lumineers; “Baba O’Riley,” by the Who; and “Universal Sound,” by Tyler Childers.
I read every night and usually two to three books a week. I stick almost exclusively to fiction, and I will read anything except those ridiculous action novels where the female characters only exist to be seduced by some archaeologist/spy/knight/elf/marine who does literally nothing to warrant their affection and usually does not even save them from their demise.
Okay, you and your husband and kids are hosting a lavish dinner party. Name the three people – from any time in human history who you’d invite.
My husband would pick Wyatt Earp. My daughters would pick you-tuber Rebecca Zamolo, but I would veto that and make them invite Anne Frank. I would pick Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG does not need to wait for a dinner invitation, though. She is welcome to rise from the grave and move in as my resident poltergeist whenever she wants.
Many thanks to Therese for her astute commentary – and to all of our business litigators who fight daily for the rights of our clients!
For more information about partnering with our Business Litigation team, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/services/practices/business-litigation/ .