By KATE GENO
As a child and now as an adult, Jennifer Shaw has always felt a fundamental need to stand up for those that can’t defend themselves.
At the University of Mississippi, a professor steered her toward law school and a career in law became her future. Her first job was with Campbell, Black, Carnine, Hedin, Ballard & McDonald, P.C., where she began working with family law cases. She says she was good at this area of the law and it became her specialty. After a year, she joined Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation Inc. where she worked for four years with domestic violence victims. She then joined Reilly & Shaw in 2001.
In 2003, she decided to open her own practice, The Shaw Law Group, in Edwardsville. The Shaw Law Group is a family law practice that works mainly with domestic relations cases that include divorce, custody, child support, pre-nuptial agreements, and adoptions.
Another large part of her practice focuses on representing individuals from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Until 2011 when Illinois passed the Civil Union Act, it required a lot of strategizing to help LGBT members of the community navigate the law, says Shaw. Since Illinois passed the same sex marriage bill in early November, she is able to represent the LGBT community without the legal challenges that were routine in the past.
To create positive change, Shaw is a council member for the Illinois State Bar Association Family Law section and chair of the Assisted Reproductive Technology, Adoption and Marriage subcommittee.
Shaw works with clients across Southern Illinois and goes further afield if needed. She says clients seek her out because of her unique approach to the law. She has assembled a valued team and each member is involved in every case, meeting weekly to discuss them. Clients are happier when they are assisted by a close-knit team that makes decisions together, says Shaw.
The highlight of her job is watching a person transform from a scared and intimidated individual to someone who is ready to move forward with their life and put the pieces back together. It is rewarding to know that positive transformations occur in people as a result of her assistance.
Shaw volunteers with the Children First Foundation board of directors and the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation board of directors. She also supports the Phoenix Crisis Center in Granite City and the Metro East Humane Society.