Random Profile: Carolyn Shellman, San Antonio

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 87,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?

Best thing about being a lawyer:  My colleagues are other lawyers who are, generally, the smartest and most witty people in the room. And I’ve been fortunate to work with really smart clients. Surrounding yourself with people like that makes going to work easy.

The part of my job I do best is: Listen

Most important career lesson:  Listening is more important than speaking.

Born: I was born in Freeport, Texas but grew up in Oklahoma.  

Family: I have one beautiful daughter, working on her PhD in counseling psychology.

Areas of practice:  General Counsel of an electric and gas utility in San Antonio

Education: I received my undergraduate education with a major in Psychology from Vassar College. I graduated from law school at the University of Oklahoma.

Bet you didn’t know: How difficult it is to be an Oklahoma football fan working in offices filled with UT and A&M graduates. (I could jinx it if I said this year may be a good one.)

Dislikes: I dislike “business speak,” the trendy phrases that get overused such as “drilling down,” doing something in the “finance space,” etc. (Does that make sense?)

Is not good at: Surveys

Culinary talent: My talent lies in presentation (although what I cook generally tastes good as well).

What kind of car do you drive? I have an Infiniti G-37 coupe and a Chevy Silverado truck. The truck doesn’t fit into my parking space very well, so I generally drive it on weekends.

Mentors/heroes:  Martha Smiley and George Cowden are the two that come to mind - two former bosses who are smart, courageous, and generous human beings.

Latest pursuit: Trees and studying Shakespeare with Tom Arp. I have been taking Shakespeare classes for several years now, and Tom is the best professor ever. Learning to recognize trees is a self-study project.

Pet peeve: High-rising terminal inflection.

When they do the film about you, what actress should portray you? Meryl Streep lived in the same dorm with me at Vassar and people have always told me I look like her, although I don’t see it. If she can perfect an Oklahoma/central Texas accent, she would be my choice.

Secret for staying young: Exercise, try new things, lie about your age.

Favorite plays: As You Like It

Favorite musician: Jimmy LaFave

Favorite movie: I used to have favorites, but I’ve decided I don’t have time to watch anything twice. I recently enjoyed “Page One” about The New York Times. 

The last movie I saw was: Universal Soldier: The Return

Favorite magazine: The New Yorker  

Favorite sport: Football (if I’m watching); tennis (if I’m playing)

Favorite food: mussels, the way they prepare them at St Martin’s Wine Bistro

Favorite restaurant: Hector’s on Henderson. 

Where to be found on a Saturday night:  country dancing, short track car races, live theater, or at home cooking and watching movies

Collects:  old New Yorker magazines (that I don’t have time to read)

Generally likes to read: I aspire to read business-related books, but I prefer fiction.

Current reading material: “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese and “Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable” by Nassim Taleb.

Memorable vacation: I went to Morocco last month for the wedding of a friend who lives there.
 
My favorite weekend retreats are: my house or Dallas

If I had more time, I would: organize my life and spend more time with my sisters

The best piece of advice ever given to you and by whom: George Cowden told me to not treat your hunting dog like a pet.

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? Maria Sharapova (but I wouldn’t grunt)

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing attorneys today? To remember that we are called to the highest of professions and that we provide invaluable service to our clients. Life is not just about making money.

Who is your favorite on-screen or literary attorney, and why? Gregory Peck - classic movie, compelling story, the lawyer was the hero.

If you weren't an attorney, what profession do you think you would be in? I have never had one day when I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I still wonder why everyone doesn’t want to be one.

What's the turning point that made you decide to become an attorney? I heard Ralph Nader speak while I was in college and decided that I wanted to be a lawyer so I could make a difference.

Who are the people you admire most, and why? My parents. My father served as a bombardier over Europe in WWII when he was 19, then he came home and became a baseball coach and a teacher. I can’t calculate how often someone tells me or my sisters what an inspiration he was to them. My mother grew up in a small Oklahoma town, graduated from Vassar, and was a Renaissance woman.
 

Carolyn is Executive Vice President & General Counsel at CPS Energy in San Antonio.

You can also view Carolyn’s TexasBar.com profile.


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