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Robert Shapiro is an American lawyer who has represented many famous clients, including Johnny Carson and O.J. Simpson. His areas of expertise include complex business litigation, class action lawsuits, and international law. He is considered one of the most influential attorneys in America. His career success is denoted by numerous achievements and accolades.
Robert Shapiro Launches LegalZoom, ShoeDazzle, and RightCounsel
In 2001, Robert Shapiro launched LegalZoom, an online legal service designed to be a one-stop-shop for all Americans. The company has continued to expand and has now reached over 4 million customers.
In 2009, Shapiro founded Shoedazzle, an online fashion subscription service, along with Kim Kardasian and Brian Lee.
In 2017, Shapiro started RightCounsel, a free legal matching service that uses a 32-point algorithm to match attorneys and clients.
Robert Leslie Shapiro was born on September 2nd 1942 in Plainfield, New Jersey. He came from a Jewish family, and moved to California with them as a child. He then studied at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles.
After completing high school, Shapiro studied finance at UCLA, and graduated in 1965. At UCLA, he joined a Jewish Fraternity called Zeta Beta Tau alongside his close friend Roger Cossack.
Shapiro graduated during the height of the Vietnam War and was going to be drafted. However, he learnt he could avoid the draft until the age of 35 if he enrolled in graduate school.
He then studied law at Loyola Law School, where he graduated in 1968. While studying at Loyola, Shapiro received two American Jurisprudence awards and also won the Scott Moot Court competition. The win motivated him to become a trial lawyer. Soon after, he was granted admission to the State Bar of California in 1969.
In his last year of law school, Shapiro worked at the L.A County District Attorney’s office. He eventually took on the role of a public prosecutor and remained there until 1972.
Following his departure from the District Attorney’s Office, Shapiro immediately formed his own practice. His first high profile client was an adult film actress Linda Lovelace. She had been charged with possession of cocaine in 1975 before Shapiro had the charges dismissed. The case was highly publicized and earned him a reputation as a reliable lawyer that defended celebrities against drug charges.
Shapiro also defended the former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson after he was arrested for driving under the influence in 1982. Carson pleaded no-contest in the case, and was sentenced to three years of probation and a fine.
When Marlon Brando’s son Christian Brando was convicted of manslaughter in 1990, Shapiro was one of the lawyers that represented him. Christian pleaded guilty and spent five years in prison.
O.J Simpson Trial
Shapiro’s most high profile case took place in 1995 when he was hired to be part of O.J. Simpson’s defense team. Simpson, an NFL football star was a person of interest following the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ron Goldman in June 1994.
Robert Shapiro played a key role in defending Simpson in the highly publicized “trial of the century”, where the jury found Simpson not guilty of committing murder. The trial drew plenty of media attention both nationally and internationally and cemented Shapiro’s reputation as one of the best lawyers in America.
Following the O.J Simpson trial, Shapiro continued representing famous celebrities and musicians in court.
When Wu-Tang Clan rapper ODB violated a state law that banned violent felons from wearing body armor, Shapiro was hired to defend him. He pointed out that the police failed to definitely prove that ODB’s vest was bulletproof, as it did not undergo testing to determine if it was made from kevlar. The case was eventually dropped due to lack of evidence.
Shapiro continued to defend ODB in future incidents, such as when the rapper was involved in a terrorist threat case for allegedly threatening security guards at a blues nightclub in West Hollywood.
Shapiro agreed to defend actress Lindsay Lohan when she violated her probation and drove under the influence back in 2010. However, he stated he would represent the actress only if she complied with the terms of probation, which included a 90 day stay in jail. Lohan then decided to appeal, which may have prompted Shapiro to quit the case.
In 2012 Robert Kardashian’s son Rob was accused of assaulting a paparazzi and stealing a memory card. He then hired Shapiro, who was an old family friend, to defend him. The charges were eventually dropped and when both parties settled outside court.
In 2013, professional basketball player Lamar Odom hired Robert Shapiro to assist in a DUI case. Odom’s mother-in-law Kris Jenner convinced Odom to get in touch with Shapiro as he had experience defending DUI charges and also ran a drug awareness foundation.
Representation in Media
Shapiro was played by actor Bruce Weitz in the 1995 TV movie The O.J Simpson story which portrayed the famous “Trial of the Century”.
Shapiro starred as himself in the 1997 mockumentary film Burn Hollywood Burn.
Another TV-adaption of the O.J Simpson trial called American Tragedy was released in 2000. In the film Shapiro is played by Ron Silver.
The O.J Simpson trial was also portrayed in a 2016 television series called The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story. In the series, Shapiro is played by actor John Travolta.
When asked about his opinion on the series, Shapiro stated that he was “greatly disappointed in the cartoonish portrayal” of him by Travolta. However, the series received plenty of critical acclaims and won a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or Television Film.
Shapiro was married in March 1970. He had two sons with his wife Linell Thomas. However, his older son Brent passed away after a drug overdose in 2005.
Shapiro then founded the non-profit organization The Brent Shapiro Foundation for Drug Awareness. The foundation’s goal was to promote education and awareness about drug addiction. The program initially enrolled 60 children in its first year, but currently has 5200 participants who aim to stay off drugs and alcohol until they are 18 years old.