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Legal Champions: Shannon Norman

shannon-normanShannon Norman

Shannon Norman Law

When Judy Henderson walked out of prison after 35 years behind bars, she had a lot of people to thank.

One of those people was Shannon Norman, who had worked on Henderson’s case since 2011.

“I really try to act in my client’s best interest,” said Norman.

Henderson went to prison for her role in a robbery-murder allegedly committed by her boyfriend. Henderson and her boyfriend were represented by the same lawyer, and while Henderson got a 50-year sentence, the boyfriend was acquitted.

The Springfield woman still had 15 years left on her sentence when, with Norman’s help, then-Gov. Eric Greitens was persuaded to commute Henderson’s life sentence.

Greitens even went to the Chillicothe prison personally to escort Henderson, by then a 68-year-old grandmother, from custody in December 2017. Greitens later pardoned her before leaving office in June 2018.

“I am still a member of the Coalition for Clemency because there are a few other women in there who are similarly situated and deserve clemency,” said Norman, a graduate of Saint Louis University who continues to lobby for geriatric parole and probation reform.

A latecomer to law school, Norman didn’t earn her law degree until her late 30s. While raising her children, she worked in real estate.

But she’s had no trouble putting her J.D. — or her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and criminology — to good use.

In addition to her practice in criminal defense and family law, she retains an interest in appellate and post-conviction work, a holdover from her days at the SLU law clinic where she helped clients with a variety of matters.

Norman is a native of Louisiana, a state in which she still is licensed to practice. But these days, she works out of her office in St. Peters, where she tries to find solutions to vexing disputes in family law, preferably through settlements where everyone can walk away amicably.

As such, she admits she doesn’t take as many cases to trial as other attorneys might.

“I don’t know that it is in my client’s best interest to fight tooth and nail over a lampshade,” she said. “My philosophy, which kind of goes along with my personality, is that everybody who can manage to work this out without having to go to trial comes out better, both spouses and the kids. In family law, nobody wins, but you can come out feeling less bad if you can maintain some control over your situation.”

Norman said she likes to maintain a fair degree of control over her own situation as well, which is why she has run her own law firm since 2013.

“I always intended to do that. I was too old and had too many other things going to be some 80-hour-a-week associate attorney some place downtown,” she said. “I grew up in a family business, and I planned to do that from the start.”

While she said she hopes someday to bring on an associate and perhaps another paralegal, she isn’t looking for massive growth.

“To be honest, that’s as large as I ever want to be,” she said.

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