Skip to main content

Law Man by Shon Hopwood: Book Review

Just finished reading the true story of Shon Hopwood’s journey from bank robber to law student. Very good read. 

As a young man, Shon is a college dropout, disillusioned by his failure at college basketball, bored and generally lacking motivation and direction. This leads him to rob 5 banks in rural Nebraska between 1997 and 1998. His amateur (but armed) robberies ultimately end with his arrest and earn him a 13-year sentence in a federal prison.

Shon’s prison stories are engaging: he matures while behind bars, grows from a stoner to a peacekeeper (but knowing that when tested you cannot show weakness), and his book provides a fascinating first-hand glimpse into the racism and mental illness that permeates the prison system.   

While in prison, Shon begins working at the law library. He reads legal books, and begins writing briefs for his fellow inmates, to help reduce their sentences. He develops a love – and a talent – for criminal procedure. The Supreme Court agrees to hear his petition for certiorari and with help from an outside lawyers he wins the case.  

Shon's story is engaging, even if written in a somewhat self-conscious manner. At times it feels like a PG-13 version of an otherwise gritty tale, as if he’s writing knowing that his mom is reading. But I guess she is reading, and part of his reason for writing the book is to apologize to his family and friends for causing them pain and to thank the people in his small town who stood by him.

Anyway, after serving his more than a decade-long sentence, Shon is released into the arms of fiancée Ann Marie. They have a couple kids, he applies to law school, receives a full scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and today is a law student at the University of Washington School of Law, set to graduate in 2014.

Shon seems passionate about criminal law – and it looks like he has a great career as a criminal lawyer ahead of him.  I just hope that the law society he applies to will admit him when he graduates. Law societies have rejected candidates for way less than a criminal record as a bank robber. Then again, Shon has clearly proven that he’s a reformed man. 

See also:


Popular posts from this blog

Profile raising in South Florida: making the most of the Daily Business Review

Profile raising is an important aspect of your marketing and business development efforts. Demonstrating that you are a thought leader in your practice area - whether by writing articles or being quoted in news articles, can go a long way towards helping you stand out. There are many publications out there of course, but the focus of this post is the Daily Business Review (DBR) in South Florida.
Writing an article The DBR is an ALM publication reporting on the legal market in South Florida. An excellent opportunity for lawyers to write an article is through the DBR's Board of Contributors column. Articles should be about 800 words, and can be case-specific, about a specific area of the law, a trend, legislation affecting a particular field, or the business of law. If you have a topic to suggest, even better, as the DBR welcomes new content. You'll also need to include a 1-sentence bio and a high resolution headshot, and will be required to sign the DBR's standard rights ag…

Book Review: Accelerating Lawyer Success

What does success look like in law firms? The authors, frustrated with the abundance of anecdotal evidence and lack of empirical evidence to answer this question, set out to solve it with research. Their findings are based on studies including a comprehensive, 75-item survey completed by 343 lawyers at U.S. AmLaw 100 firms. They examine, among other things, the differences between lawyers who made partner in less than 10 years and those who didn't.
Accelerating Lawyer Success: How to Make Partner, Stay Healthy, and Flourish in a Law Firm. By Lori Berman, Heather Bock, and Juliet Aiken. 

The authors have uncovered the recipe for how to make partner in less than 10 years. In short, it involves hard work and quality work, strategic relationship building, planning, help from mentors, and a mind-set of being the master of your own fate. You gotta build relationships strategically, invest in them, and leverage them. You need goals, to make plans, and to stick to them for the most part. An…

The Science of Happiness Explained

I'm at the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) 2018 Annual Conference in New Orleans, and almost skipped the keynote session - because an hour-long talk about happiness sounded irritating. But actually I didn't want to strangle the speaker at all. 

The Happiness Professor as she is known, is Catherine Sanderson. She teaches at Amherst College and has degrees from Princeton and Stanford. She presented research from the field of positive psychology that looks at the factors that do (and do not) predict happiness, and provided practical ways that we can increase our own psychological well-being.
Things we think will make us happy, but really don’t: Money. (Note: for people worried about survival, this doesn’t apply.) But beyond that, the more of it one has, the more one wants. 
Climate. Not convinced about this one. As a person who has been living in Florida for 6 years, from Canada, I can tell you that she may have gotten this one wrong. 
Life event. In other words, when X thing happ…