Anne B. Shumadine '83: An Investment in a Law Degree Paid Dividends for Her Clients and Her Community

  • Citizen Lawyer
    Citizen Lawyer  Anne B. Shumadine, J.D. '83, was honored at graduation on May 15 with the Law School Association's 2011 Citizen Lawyer Award.  Photo by Colonial Photography
Photo - of -
It was 1980, and Norfolk local Anne Shumadine '83 was looking for something to do. With her two children in school, this stay-at-home mother and former math teacher was ready for a new challenge. 

So, at age 37, she went to law school.

"I hadn't read anything but House Beautiful for 15 years," she said, reflecting on her decision to commute for three years from Norfolk to Williamsburg to earn a law degree at William & Mary. "I wanted to learn an interesting skill."

The decision to attend law school would impact not only her life but the life of her community as well. Her choice also put her on the path to a career representative of the Law School's citizen-lawyer ideal -- a commitment to the legal profession and to the public good.

Enrolling in law school seemed like a natural choice to Shumadine: her stepfather was a judge, her husband practiced law and so did her brother-in-law.  "I used to joke that I went to law school so I could have a conversation around Christmas dinner," she said.

Going to law school also satisfied her love of problem-solving, critical thinking, and a burgeoning interest in tax law.  "I really liked the way it taught you to think," she said.

Civil procedure, tax, partnerships, and other classes filled her schedule during her three years at William & Mary.  Her scholastic achievements earned her induction into Order of the Coif and she also found time to serve as an editor of the Law Review. Shumadine would carpool to school every day from Norfolk, arriving at 9 a.m. and leaving by 5 p.m. to spend the evenings with her family.

By the time she graduated in 1983, she was primed for a career as a tax lawyer. She gained experience working at McGuireWoods before starting her own tax law practice, and, then, in 1994, formed the wealth management group Signature. Handling investments, tax planning, and philanthropy for individuals and families, the company has grown from three to 30 employees.

While William & Mary trained her for a satisfying career, the school also helped her prepare for a life of public service. Former United States Senator and Law School Dean William Spong especially impressed Shumadine.  "He was the perfect example of the citizen lawyer," she recalled.

Similar to Dean Spong, who among other posts during his long career served as interim director of Old Dominion University, Shumadine has a passion for education.

"It's something I really believe in," she said. "I think we have to be an educated society -- education from age zero to continually and forever. If you have an educated society, it helps everybody."

Her zeal for education has led her to serve on the boards of three institutions: Old Dominion University, Virginia Wesleyan College, and Eastern Virginia Medical School.

"All of them are really interesting to me because they were really trying to build something and transform themselves," she said.

In addition, Shumandine is a former trustee of the Law School Foundation.

She also serves on the board of Access College Foundation, a non-profit organization started by a former client to help students in Hampton Roads obtain funding for college.  The foundation awards scholarships for books and supplies, and also places counselors in every high school to help students apply for financial aid and to encourage them to go to college.  "We've leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars through these financial advisors," she said.

Her interest in advancing education started well before law school with her service on the board of a preschool, championing the importance of early education. Law school simply gave her another set of tools to promote access to and quality of education.

"I think that legal training helps you think," she said. And that skill draws her to organizations looking to change and grow, she added.

Helping transform organizations also has given Shumadine many opportunities to develop new interests.  In addition to her work to promote education, she also serves as a trustee of the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

"It's really important to have interests outside of what you do from nine to five," she said. "Doing other things and being involved with the community gives you a different way of looking at things, and you really can't do a good job unless you see things from different perspectives."

As a gardener, grandmother, walker, and reader of chunky novels, Shumadine's interests abound even though her professional and public service work already fill many hours. To find time for them, she said, she adheres to a simple formula: "You just find time to do what you want to do."

By expending her energy on both investment portfolios and on her community, Shumadine exhibits the professional acumen and the ethic of service characteristic of a citizen lawyer.