Oklahoma Bar Journal
An Inspirational Practice
Celebrating the 70-Year Career of Attorney Charles Albert Shadid
By Peter Alexander Shadid
Children often dream about what they want to be when they grow up; whether it’s the fantasy of cowboy, astronaut or rock star – or the more realistic dream of doctor, lawyer or banker. I grew up the son of a dentist. My older brother, along with several other family members, later became dentists. If there was one profession I knew I absolutely did not want to be when I grew up, it was a dentist. In the same vein, from a very young age, I always had the insatiable urge to be an attorney. I just never really knew why.
Maybe it was my cantankerous attitude toward most everything in life, or maybe it was my love for reading and writing, or maybe it was my guilty pleasure of watching shows like Judge Judy during the summertime as a teenager. When I was accepted at the OU College of Law, it finally dawned on me: I wanted to be an attorney because my grandfather, Charles Albert Shadid, was an attorney.
My grandfather, whom I affectionately refer to by the Arabic translation as “Jiddy,” is a first-generation Lebanese American, born in 1929 to Albert and Raeefa Shadid in Snyder. To most everyone else, he is known as “Charlie.” He has been practicing law in Oklahoma for over 70 years and has inspired the careers of many attorneys, some of whom were Lebanese Americans of later generations. That includes three of his grandsons: Travis Charles Smith, a 13-year lawyer who works alongside Jiddy in a variety of ways; Charles Otto Walker, a first-year student at the
OU College of Law; and myself, who began practicing law in 2018.
While studying law at OU, Charlie would hitchhike from Norman to Oklahoma City, help his mother in her grocery store and then hitchhike back to Norman for class the next week. After graduating in 1952, Charlie went into the United States Army, where he joined the 13th Class of the Judge Advocate General’s School. He had so much success defending his fellow officers that his assignment was moved to prosecution, where he remained until he completed his Army duties in 1955.
Charlie then moved into private practice. In 1972, Charlie bought and remodeled the Victoria Building, a former theater located at 18th and Classen in Oklahoma City, where he continues to work today at the age of 93. Over his career, he would periodically rent out office spaces to other attorneys, one of whom was future Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian P. Opala.
Along with his partner, Farris Shanbour, Charlie bought, owned, operated and fought to protect over 10 theaters. He argued before the Oklahoma Supreme Court multiple times against Oklahoma City’s urban renewal plans.
My Jiddy had career-defining influences on me that I did not realize until much later in my life. Through my brief four years of practice, I have experienced what he went through as a trial attorney. Like my Jiddy, I have spent countless hours formulating trial strategy, not only from a legal perspective but also – and arguably more important – from the perspective of a juror. Similar to the many stories he has told me in the past, I have felt the fear of unfavorable jury questions, the fulfillment of success, the pain of defeat and everything in between. Even during the worst times, my Jiddy has always told me to “keep it up.”
Throughout his many years of practice, Charlie never hesitated to take a meeting with anyone. He would speak to any person who came through his door, no matter who they were or where they came from – you treat every person with respect. That mantra lasted throughout his seven-decade journey and continues to have a lasting effect on me as I have begun my practice of law.
Peter A. Shadid is an assistant district attorney for the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 93 Vol 6 (August 2022)