The importance of helping others and sticking up for the underdog are things that Muskegon attorney David Shafer’s parents, both of whom started out their careers as teachers, instilled in him. “In 5th grade we had a student court, and I always took on the role of representing the accused, as I often thought that he or she was being unfairly singled out. After all we all screw up. In high school I joined the debate team, as I found writing and speaking in support of a position to be rewarding and intellectually stimulating,” said Shafer.
“During the summer, after my first year of law school, I clerked for an attorney in my home town of Muskegon. At the end of the summer he arranged for me to have an interview with MAJ Past President, Jules Olsman, so that I might have a chance to clerk for his firm during my second and third years of law school. During the interview Jules said, ‘I don’t give a f*** about your grades. I just want to know, are you resourceful?’ I was surprised and must have looked puzzled. So Jules continued, ‘Can you get shit done?!’ I knew I had found the place to learn. Jules, Pat Nolan, Larry Kohl, and Troy Haney—all terrific lawyers whom I met there—continue to be dear friends and colleagues upon whom I can call for advice.” Shafer has been a member of MAJ for nearly 25 years. “Every trial lawyer representing victims of carelessness and negligence should be a member of MAJ. The network of fearless and phenomenal attorneys who belong to MAJ is incredible. If I have an issue and I call ANY member who has familiarity with the subject/issue, I always get the help that I need. The seminars are fantastic. Whether it is the very comprehensive and always well-organized annual No-Fault Institute that George Sinas and Wayne Miller put on or something lighter, like the Seminar in the Snow, I always get nuggets of wisdom that help my practice and most importantly, my deserving clients.”
A monthly contributor to MAJ Justice PAC, Shafer believes that every lawyer should contribute to MAJ’s lobbying effort. “If it were not for MAJ Justice PAC and the members who contribute to it, the injured people that we represent would have no voice. MAJ does a fantastic job of advocating for legislation, judges, and issues that affect our clients and the citizens of this state. Let’s face it, one thing that most of us don’t know is how to best spend our resources in the arena of legislation and politics. MAJ has proven, especially in this past election cycle, that it does know how and where to spend our money.”
Nolan & Shafer, PLC, is a lakeshore firm founded, owned and run by lawyers born and raised in Muskegon. “We handle everything from serious trucking, auto and motorcycle accident cases to dog bites, boating accidents, premises liability, civil rights violations, and medical malpractice cases. We personally handle the intakes, travel to clients’ homes or other locations to meet with them, and personally handle the file. Our marketing plan also specifies that we are committed to our friends and neighbors up and down the lakeshore communities in which we live and work.”
Shafer said his most memorable case was when he represented a 15-year-old woman who was one of 10 in a 5-passenger vehicle that was involved in a road rage collision. “My client was an All-Conference basketball player and suffered severe fractures of her spine and required extensive surgery. I had two defendants who were blaming each other and my client was facing a significant comparative negligence finding.
“The best part was that for several reasons I did not exercise a peremptory challenge to kick off a disinterested/drowsy potential juror. After the verdict he approached me and asked if he could speak to my client. He walked up to her, put his hand out and said, ‘Ms., I just want you to know that we hope that this money that we awarded to you makes a difference in your life. We think that you deserve all the best that life has to offer.’ Both the juror and my client started crying and embraced. It was a wonderful moment. And once again proof. . .that the longer I do this, the less I know. The jury awarded her about $2.6 million. She went on to be an All-State basketball player and has been having a terrific college career.”
When he’s not working, Shafer enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Andrea, and her two children, Beckitt (10) and Tala (8). “I also love to read and I enjoy getting my ass kicked every weekday at Muskegon CrossFit. I also enjoy fishing and traveling to Islamorada in the Keys.”