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    March 20, 2008  

“Courthouse Rat”

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Hiring partners, take note: After graduating from George Mason Law, Peter Greenspun peddled his services to 85 firms before he got a single offer. The much‑passed-over law grad is now one of the best known criminal defense attorneys in the area. When we hiked out to his Fairfax office, we discovered that Peter’s DC sniper co-counsel Jonathan Shapiro (they represented John Muhammad) recently joined the firm, now known as Greenspun, Shapiro, Davis & Leary.


Despite the glam surroundings, Peter says the attorneys at his firm are still “courthouse rats.”


Peter was happy to show off his new digs, which the firm moved to in September, around the time Jonathan joined up. “South Beach meets Fairfax,” is how he describes the look (that’s an aquarium in the background). Down the hall are four separate waiting areas designed to give criminal defendants and their families extra privacy when they visit. The modern vibe is a far cry from the “very Virginia” offices—think polished wood and countryside paintings—of Duvall, Tate, Bywater & Blackburn, where Peter launched his career by scrapping for court appointments.


Peter’s daughter Samantha has applied to law school, but until then she’s doing everything from translating for Spanish-speaking clients to designing the firm’s website.


Peter quickly got appointed to robbery and rape cases (“way before I should have,” he confesses), and to this day handles everything from DUIs to capital murder, in addition to all manner of civil litigation. One of his most notorious former clients is David Kaye, a Maryland rabbi who was ensnared by NBC Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” series. (In 2006, Kaye received a 78-month sentence.) When Prince William County, Virginia  Circuit Court Judge LeRoy Millette (now on the state Court of Appeals) offered him the sniper appointment, Peter said “yes” on one condition:  He wanted a co-counsel of his choosing. The man he had in mind was Jonathan Shapiro, a longtime solo practitioner Peter respected and hoped to practice with someday. They handled the case together (for a brief time during trial, Muhammad insisted on representing himself), and, what do you know, have in fact cemented their ties with the new partnership.     

McGuire Woods
Kane Company
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