Posted Sep 29, 2010 11:00 am CDT
Shawn Chapman Holley is in the media spotlight as Lindsay Lohan’s lawyer, but her initial legal experiences were a lot less high-profile.
Holley, a graduate of Southwestern Law School, gained her legal experience working at the public defender’s office, working her way up to felony cases, CNN Justice reports in a profile. Then legendary lawyer Johnnie Cochran saw her in court and recruited her to work at his firm.
Cochran’s firm didn’t handle criminal cases, at least not at first. But after Holley had been working at the firm for six months, O.J. Simpson hired Cochran to defend him on murder charges. Holley became part of the Simpson dream team.
Holley tells CNN that Cochran, who died of a brain tumor in 2005, is still a guiding influence. “I always ask myself, ‘What would Johnnie do? What would Johnnie do is my guiding question as a lawyer,” she said.
Holley followed Cochran lawyer Howard Weitzman to Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert, where she handles a number of celebrity DUIs. “I call a big part of my practice Celebrities Behaving Badly,” she tells CNN. She also represents former Food Network chef Juan Carlos Cruz, who is accused of trying to have his wife killed.
The story describes Holley as “a criminal defense lawyer to her core.”
“She burns with a passion for the underdog,” CNN Justice reports. “She says she’s daunted by Hollywood’s ‘fancy people.’ Her manner is cheerful and open; her quick laugh and glib one-liners can disguise her status as a serious player in the courtroom.”
Updated at 9:45 a.m. to correct typo.