Robert Shapiro (lawyer)

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Robert Shapiro
Shapiro in an ad for LegalZoom
Robert Leslie Shapiro

(1942-09-02) September 2, 1942 (age 81)
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles (BS)
Loyola Marymount University (JD)
Occupation(s)Attorney, entrepreneur
Linell Thomas
(m. 1970)

Robert Leslie Shapiro (born September 2, 1942) is an American attorney and entrepreneur. He is best known for being the short-term defense lawyer of Erik Menéndez in 1990, and a member of the "Dream Team" of O.J. Simpson's attorneys that successfully defended him from the charges that he murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman, in 1994. He later turned to civil work and co-founded ShoeDazzle, LegalZoom, and, appearing in their television commercials.

Early life and education[edit]

Shapiro was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, to a Jewish family. He graduated from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles in 1961 and UCLA in 1965, with a B.S. in Finance. He obtained his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School in 1968.[1] At UCLA, he pledged the Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau with his best friend, Roger Cossack.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Shapiro married Linell Thomas on March 8, 1970. They had two sons, Grant and Brent.

After his son Brent's death from a drug overdose in 2005, he founded the Brent Shapiro Foundation, a nonprofit organization with an aim to raise drug awareness, for which he serves as chairman of the board, as well as Pickford Lofts, a rehabilitation facility.[3]

Legal practice and books about the law[edit]

Shapiro was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1969.[4] He has represented famous athletes, most notably O.J. Simpson, Darryl Strawberry, José Canseco, and Vince Coleman. He has also represented other celebrities, including Johnny Carson, Christian Brando, Linda Lovelace, the Kardashians, and F. Lee Bailey.[5] In 1998, he sued Strawberry over unpaid legal fees; the case was eventually settled out of court.[6]

In the case of Lyle and Erik Menéndez, who murdered their parents in 1989, Shapiro arranged the surrender of Erik in 1990, who at the time of Lyle's arrest was in Israel for a tennis tournament. He later represented Erik during their first arraignment, until the defense was handed over to Leslie Abramson, who represented Erik until the brothers' conviction in 1996.[7]

Shapiro played a crucial role in the O. J. Simpson murder case. Already associated with Simpson, on June 17, 1994, he was present at Robert Kardashian's press conference pleading for Simpson to turn himself in to the police. According to Shapiro, Simpson's psychiatrists agreed that his letter to "friends", which Kardashian read over the air, was a suicide note. On television, Shapiro appealed to Simpson to surrender.[8] Later that day, after the famous low-speed "Bronco chase", Simpson surrendered to the police, with Shapiro's assistance.

When the actual trial began, Shapiro led the defense team (dubbed the "Dream Team"), but later ceded lead chair to Johnnie Cochran.[9][10][11] Despite their team's success in freeing Simpson, Shapiro criticized his fellow Dream Team attorneys F. Lee Bailey (calling him a "loose cannon") and Cochran, for bringing race into the trial.[12] In his book The Search for Justice: A Defense Attorney's Brief on the O.J. Simpson Case (1998),[13] Shapiro states that he does not believe Simpson was framed by the LAPD but does believe the verdict was correct due to reasonable doubt.[14] Shortly after the Simpson trial, Shapiro steered his practice away from criminal defense toward civil litigation.

Shapiro was sued by record producer Phil Spector for refusing to return a $1 million retainer for legal services. Spector ultimately settled the lawsuit against Shapiro for an undisclosed amount.[15]

On April 30, 2007, Shapiro was the subject of a published appellate opinion involving allegations that he had forwarded a request from his client to the client's CEO to remove twelve duffel bags, each containing $500,000 in cash, from the client's apartment, prior to a judge's order freezing the client's assets. In that opinion the California Court of Appeal held that Shapiro's law firm, Christensen Miller Fink Jacobs Glaser Weil & Shapiro LLP, could be held liable for his alleged misconduct, even though Shapiro holds no equity interest in the firm and is not a true partner.[16] Ultimately, Shapiro settled the case for $450,000 (nearly twice the amount he said he was paid to represent the client in the first place), without admitting any wrongdoing.[17][18]

Shapiro has represented Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts, actress Eva Longoria, Rob Kardashian (in the 2017 revenge porn case brought by Blac Chyna), Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Rockstar, and Diamond Resorts International. Shapiro represented the colorful Malibu psychiatrist and stem cell marketeer William C. Rader before the Medical Board of California, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the permanent revocation of Rader's medical license.[19][20]

Shapiro frequently writes about the law and has published multiple books on the subject. In 2013, The National Law Journal named him on the list of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.[21] Shapiro has also been recognized among the "500 Leading Lawyers in America," by Lawdragon in 2023 [22] and has been consistently named to Southern California Super Lawyers for decades. [23]

Children's book[edit]

Shapiro created Somo the Sober Monkey, a character in the children's book Somo Says No, which has an anti-drug theme.[24] It is made available to schools free of charge.[25]

Business ventures[edit]

Shapiro is the cofounder of LegalZoom,[26] ShoeDazzle,[27] and[28]

Portrayals in films and television[edit]

Shapiro is known as a "celebrity" lawyer and as such is a celebrity himself. He has appeared as himself (or as a lawyer resembling his real-life self) in a number of films and television series, including the film Havoc (2005). He has also been portrayed by actors in film dramatizations of the O.J. Simpson murder trial.


  1. ^ Green, Michelle (July 11, 1994). "Master of Disaster". People. Retrieved January 13, 2013. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Toobin, Jeffrey (September 29, 2015). The Run of His Life: The People V. O. J. Simpson. Random House. p. 6. ISBN 9780812988543.
  3. ^ Pelisek, Christine (October 13, 2005). "Brent Shapiro, 1980–2005". LA Weekly. Retrieved July 8, 2006.
  4. ^ "Robert Leslie Shapiro". The State Bar of California. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  5. ^ "Bailey Trial for Drunken Driving Filling Courtroom". New York Times. New York. April 18, 1982. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  6. ^ "Strawberry Sued Over Legal Fees". AP News Archive. The Associated Press. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  7. ^ "Second Brother Gives Himself Up To Police In Slaying of Parents". Tulsa World. March 12, 1990. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  8. ^ Brett Morgen, Director (June 16, 2010). 30 for 30: June 17, 1994 (television). ESPN.
  9. ^ Mydans, Seth (June 16, 1994). "Lawyer for O. J. Simpson Quits Case". The New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2009.
  10. ^ Newton, Jim (September 9, 1994). "Power Struggle in the Simpson Camp, Sources Say – Shapiro, Cochran Increasingly Compete For Limelight In Case". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 21, 2009.
  11. ^ "Simpson Expected To Shuffle Legal Team, Demote Lead Attorney". Daily News. New York. January 2, 1995. Retrieved November 21, 2009.
  12. ^ Shapiro, Robert L.; Warren, Larkin (1996). The Search for Justice: A Defense Attorney's Brief on the O.J. Simpson Case.
  13. ^ Shapiro, Robert (1998). The Search for Justice: A Defense Attorney's Brief on the O.J. Simpson Case. Warner Books.
  14. ^ "Some who helped shape the O.J. Simpson case". USA Today. January 28, 1997. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
  15. ^ "Murderer Phil Spector Settles Lawsuit with Robert Shapiro". March 4, 2011.
  16. ^ PCO Inc. v. Christensen Miller Fink Jacobs Glaser Weil Shapiro LLP (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 384, 389}
  17. ^ - Christensen Glaser May Face Trial Over Bags of Cash
  18. ^ PCO, Inc. v. Shapiro, case no. BC262706, 2008 WL 2062773 (Judgment Enforcing Settlement Agreement (Los Angeles County Superior Court 6-Mar-2008) (""Plaintiffs PCO and PCO, Inc., through their receiver, Barry A Fisher, shall, and hereby do, have JUDGMENT against Defendant Robert L Shapiro (hereafter “Shapiro”) in the amount of $450,000 00, said amount having already been satisfied"").Text
  19. ^ In the Matter of the Accusation Against: WILLIAM C. RADER, M.D., Physician's and Surgeon's Certificate No. A22848 Archived April 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Medical Board of California Department of Consumer Affairs, Case 20-2010-205857, ordered October 6, 2014; revocation effective November 5, 2014; access date February 15, 2015.
  20. ^ Zarembo, Alan (May 16, 2015). "Doctor with revoked license continues to sell unproven stem cell treatments". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  21. ^ "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America". March 22, 2013. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  22. ^ "2023 Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America". Lawdragon. January 13, 2023. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  23. ^ "Robert Shapiro, Top Rated Civil Litigation Attorney in Los Angeles, California". Super Lawyers.
  24. ^ "For Parents". The Brent Shapiro Foundation For Alcohol and Drug Awareness. Archived from the original on March 22, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  25. ^ "Childrens Books". The Brent Shapiro Foundation. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  26. ^ "About Us | LegalZoom".
  27. ^ "Kim Kardashian’s ShoeDazzle gets $40 million financing," Los Angeles Business Journal, May 18, 2011.
  28. ^ Cullins, Ashley (April 28, 2017). "Former O.J. Lawyer Robert Shapiro Launches New Legal-Matchmaking Website (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  29. ^ The O.J. Simpson Story. 20th Century Fox TV. 1995.
  30. ^ "The miniseries O.J.'s lawyers don't want you to see". Tampa Bay Times. November 12, 2000. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  31. ^ "John Travolta as Robert Shapiro in American Crime Story on FX". FX. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  32. ^ "'Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders' recap". Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  33. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 27, 1998). "An Alan Smithee Film Burn Hollywood Burn movie review (1998)". Retrieved February 19, 2023.

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