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Business Observer Thursday, Jul. 16, 2009 11 years ago

Love of Law

Marcy Shaw, 35 Wright & Shaw
by: Jean Gruss Contributing Writer

Marcy Shaw, 35 Wright & Shaw

Marcy Shaw sometimes drives her friends crazy.

When she's at the wheel, Shaw comes to a complete stop at intersections and never goes over the speed limit. But she has good reason to be an extra-careful driver: Shaw is a part-time traffic-court judge.

Shaw, 35, harbors a desire to return to public service. “I would love, at the end of the day, to be a county court judge,” she says. For now, though, she runs a thriving law practice.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Shaw moved to Fort Myers in 1998 to work in the state attorney's office. She specialized in prosecuting crimes against children. “I loved being a prosecutor,” she says.

Shaw enjoyed working for the state, though like most she cast enviable glances at the much-higher salaries of her colleagues in private practice. Still, there are advantages to working for the government. “When you work for the state, you just show up,” she says.

But Shaw says the right opportunity to be in private practice arose when Christine Wright, her law partner, asked her to join her one-person firm because she had so much real-estate work. Her timing was perfect because the real estate boom was just starting. “Our practice was exploding,” Shaw says looking back. “It was a great time to go into private practice.”

Still, the transition to civil litigation from criminal prosecution was challenging because laws constantly change. And the $250 an hour that Shaw charges has to pay for everything from the power bill to the staff salaries. “That's not $250 in my pocket,” she chuckles.

Business is good today in part because the practice has seen an increase in litigation and foreclosure work. “Our accounts receivable are higher than they've ever been,” Shaw says. But collections are tougher, too. “We turn a profit, but there's a lot more time spent trying to track down clients.”

Encouraging clients to pay their bills on time is necessary but unpleasant. “I'm not enamored with being a bill collector,” Shaw quips.

Shaw says neither her age nor her gender has been a problem in building her business. “I have youthful energy on my side,” she says. One of the useful organizations that have helped her business is called Seek Counsel of
Professional Experience (SCOPE), a group of attorneys who volunteer to help lawyers in various areas of the law.

Shaw also has been active with the Lee County Bar, becoming its president last year. “Last year was almost a blur,” she says. She's also on the board of governors of the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, visiting a different part of the state every two months for board meetings.

Both organizations have been helpful in generating referrals to Wright & Shaw. “That's the only way you can justify the travel,” Shaw says. “It is absolutely word of mouth.”

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