The Family Man

For Shawn Menashe, no other kind of law feels like home       

Published in 2008 Oregon Super Lawyers Magazine — November 2008

If anyone ever makes a movie about Shawn Menashe's life, he already has a title picked out: My Big (Not Fat) Greek Family. From social life to community service to career, family plays a central role.

"My father's family came from Rhodes, in Greece, and most of them moved to Portland," Menashe explains. "I've got aunts, uncles, cousins; we have family gatherings with hundreds of people."

The 30-year-old family law attorney spent his early childhood in the Rose City, then his parents divorced and he moved with his mother to New York City for 10 years. The time spent in the churning center of the country's melting pot taught him valuable lessons about the benefits of diversity. He also learned a thing or two that needed to be forgotten when he moved back to Oregon. "People on the West Coast can be put off by East Coast assertiveness," he says. "It gets in my way when I try to do my work, so I've learned to put a lid on it."

But the most valuable lesson was how much he missed his big Greek family. "I knew, when I moved back to Portland, how much family would mean to me."

Menashe returned to the Beaver State to go to college, attending the University of Oregon. He got a degree in political science, then went on to law school, with a focus on business and tax law, clerking first at Miller Nash, then at Preston, Gates & Ellis (now K&L Gates). But it was the time he spent with his father, respected family attorney Albert Menashe (whose name has appeared on every Oregon Super Lawyers list), that clicked with him. "I would clerk for him when I wasn't in class, and I really liked what he did," Menashe recalls. "All of a sudden, I had all this direct client contact, and I saw I could really help people. My eyes were opened—maybe I didn't need to be a big-business lawyer."

Although offered positions as a business litigator, Menashe instead applied for a job with his father's firm, Gevurtz Menashe Larson & Howe. Over the last five years, he, too, has become a highly regarded family law attorney. "We try to preserve the integrity of family. Our philosophy is that, when someone is getting divorced, there's no need to scorch the earth and hurt each other."

Menashe's interest in helping families extends to serving his community. He loves his work as a member of the junior board of the Oregon Make-A-Wish Foundation. "It isn't just going to meetings. I get to hand out presents—we're just trying to put a smile on a kid's face. It's addictive—you want to do it more and more." 

He hopes someday to have a large family of his own. "It's just a matter of finding the right person," he says. He already has one domestic passion. "I love cooking—I have about 200 cookbooks," Menashe says. "If I weren't a lawyer, I'd be a chef." Greek food? No, he confesses. "Italian."        

 

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