Our Advocate of the Month for June is Terrika Shaw. Terrika is a Southern University Law Center graduate, who joined LSA in 2014. After a stint in our Selma office, Terrika relocated to our Birmingham office. In five years, she has proven herself as one of our most talented young lawyers, who manages to thrive and win in every one of our practice areas. In June, Terrika went on one of her periodic hot streaks at LSA, and a string of our clients are very thankful.
One of Terrika’s wins involved a client who was living with his father in a home where they were struggling to pay the mortgage. When the father died, the mortgage company was already in the midst of foreclosure; even though there was an insurance policy that paid off the mortgage, the check arrived literally a day after the foreclosure sale.
Just when things seemed as they couldn’t get worse for our grieving client, Terrika skillfully intervened in court to redeem the property, and the maneuver paid off. She negotiated a fair settlement with the real estate investment company that bought the home off the foreclosure market, and for a price that was less than the owed amount; our client was able to actually save the property of his later father and get a deed in his own name.
Another of Terrika’s clients was trapped in an abusive relationship with a man with whom she was in cohabitation. When she finally tried to leave, he tried to maintain control by filing a divorce petition claiming they were common law married and that he was actually entitled to half the interest in the home. Terrika successfully proved that the claim of marriage was a lie, and this abused woman trying to get a fresh start, got to keep her house.
Terrika also won a string of garnishment victories, all of them involving efforts to seize income or bank accounts for poor people who barely had enough to exist on. In one case, a creditor was trying to seize an account from a client that actually had nothing in it but a social security check.
A couple both lost their jobs and were heading for imminent eviction. Although nothing could be done to keep the family in the home, Terrika’s intervention managed to secure an additional three weeks for them to stay in their apartment until they could find a new place to stay. Their neighbors saw them move out with dignity instead of having their possessions marched out for them by security or sheriff’s deputies.
If you read our website, you know about the work Terrika did to successfully protect SNAP, or food stamp benefits, for a disabled person and a veteran. Her thoughtful explanation of the myths and realities about food stamps has been one of our best received and most shared narratives this year.
At LSA, we appreciate that Terrika Shaw is a winner who could be making her mark in so many other ways. It is our privilege that she chooses to win, and to make a difference, on behalf of grieving sons about to lose their home, abused women trying to reclaim their lives, and veterans trying to feed their families. Congratulations, Terrika!
By Michael Forton, Director of Advocacy