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David A. Shaneyfelt (’81)
David A. Shaneyfelt (’81)

“For more than 30 years, I have struggled over my role within the framework of litigation,” writes alumnus attorney David A. Shaneyfelt (’81) in Confessions of a Catholic Litigator, recently published in the University of St. Thomas Law Journal. “I want to be a good Catholic. I want to be a good lawyer. Can I be both? Are there things I must do in my practice that offend my faith (and thus offend God)? Conversely, will practicing my faith to the fullest make me an inferior lawyer? Am I binding myself to some higher standard than legal ethics require?”

In a long, thoughtful article that raises as many questions as it answers, Mr. Shaneyfelt considers the ethical tensions afflicting Catholic attorneys, who must vigilantly serve their clients while, more importantly, also serving and honoring the Lord. Mr. Shaneyfelt is among the 5 percent of attorneys recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyer and has the highest possible ranking for ethical standards and legal ability from Martindale Hubbell. A former trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice who now practices with The Alvarez Firm in Calabasas, California, he has litigated complex civil matters in state and federal courts across the country. 

“Be kind and civil to your opponent, even when your opponent is not civil in return. Treat your support staff fairly and be in good cheer,” Mr. Shaneyfelt advises fellow lawyers. “Be honest in all your dealings — with clients, colleagues, opponents, judges, court personnel, or anyone involved in a case. Virtue, to be sure, is its own reward, and those who practice it, while practicing law, will succeed or fail in the same measure that others succeed or fail in whatever endeavors they do.”