Last year Shanda K. Pearson, not quite three years out of law school, argued on behalf of the mother/appellant in Beardsley v. Garcia before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
“The time leading up to the oral argument was very nerve-racking,” recalls Pearson, an associate with Bassford Remele. “But once I got up there, it felt surprisingly comfortable.”
The case raises the issue of whether a District Court exceeded its statutory authority by granting parenting time to the respondent in an order for protection proceeding, when the sole basis for granting that time is a recognition of parentage.
Pearson became involved with the case through her volunteer service at Chrysalis, which assists battered women with their legal needs, most often by helping them obtain orders for protection from their estranged spouses or boyfriends.
“It’s a lot different than the work I usually do, and I like that we always get a decision that day, an instant result, for people with serious, perhaps life-threatening problems,” Pearson says.
“It’s very different from arguing over financial-based disputes, where the client is not at risk of physical harm. It’s a very good feeling when you get that order of protection, and you leave the client feeling much safer,” she says.
She’s effective at meeting the legal needs of her regular clients, as well.
Consider her recent work as co-counsel in a substantial bad-faith case, representing a plaintiff who prevailed on summary judgment. At issue was an excess verdict of more than $700,000. In addition, she has been involved in the defense of numerous complicated personal injury lawsuits, including a boating accident in which the injured party’s arm was amputated and an automobile accident in which the plaintiff suffered a significant brain injury.
Pearson began her career in law as a paralegal for four years before attending law school. That real-world experience was critical to her law school success, Pearson says, and she graduated in the top 5 percent of her class.
“I loved law school,” she says, adding with a laugh, “OK, ‘love’ is a pretty strong word — I guess I’m a little nerdy that way, but I did really enjoy it.”