The Eye of an Advocate
Led by Carol A. Shelly, the legal team of Shelly Law Offices takes an honest, empathetic, and impassioned approach to seeking justice for injured clients.
by Leigh Stuart

Carol A. Shelly heard the call to fight for justice at an early age.

As a seventh grader watching the infamous Watergate hearings with her father, Shelly was inspired to pursue a career devoted to righting the wrongs done to others. She attended Gettysburg College, followed by Widener University School of Law, where she pursued her Juris Doctor. Shelly held down a full-time job during law school, focusing nights and weekends on her studies. Upon graduation, she went straight into a career working in the Bucks County Public Defender’s Office.

Shelly spent four years there, lending her talents to cases ranging from shoplifting to first-degree murder—experience that solidified her talent and passion for trying cases. She spent the next 22 years perfecting her craft at another firm before branching out in 2012 with her own private practice, Shelly Law Offices LLC, based in Doylestown. Today, the practice is devoted to helping those who have been injured in a car crash, as a result of medical negligence, on a property with unsafe conditions, or those who are seeking justice for a wrongful death of a loved one.

“I have to say, starting my own firm, being a solo practitioner handling the level of cases that I handle—often catastrophic in nature—was hugely risky,” she shares. “It was very challenging at the beginning. Sometimes I would be tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket, advancing a case for a client, before a favorable result came in. The fact that I’ve made it seven years so far, I’m very proud of that.”

Shelly has not only “made it” but continues to excel in her field. Her practice is thriving.

Shelly carries an AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which means her peers recognize and rank her at the highest level of professional excellence in legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards. In addition, she has been named a Super Lawyer by the company of the same name—a part of trusted news source Thomson Reuters—for almost every one of the past 15 years. She has also been a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and American Bar Association since 2000, and served in the past as president of both the Bucks County Bar Association and the Bucks County Bar Foundation. Shelly is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, of which membership is by invitation only to a trial lawyer of high personal character and honorable reputation.

“Clients want a lawyer who knows what he or she is doing,” says Shelly, who has been trying cases for more than 30 years. “I know it sounds silly, but they want a lawyer who will be honest—share the good and bad about a case—and who will fight for them. I handle small cases as well as the biggest cases, and I do it as well as the big firms. I’m not afraid to get into the courtroom and fight. As a public defender, I tried the first battered woman syndrome case in Pennsylvania in 1989.”

That having been said, not every client is a perfect fit for her firm. After careful review of the unique facts and circumstances presented by every potential medical malpractice case, Shelly estimates she declines about 90 percent of cases; even so, she feels a responsibility to inform those individuals as to why.

“I look at every case with the eye of an advocate,” she says. “I consider every case, and every client’s situation, very seriously. I want my clients to be satisfied with my representation, and this is even true of someone whose case I decline. I just spoke with a family member last week whose case I declined, but who said, ‘You’ve given me more information in the last 30 days than my other lawyer gave me in a year and a half.’

“I take the time to answer questions from those experiencing sometimes unimaginable difficulties after their own injury and also from family members who have lost a loved one in an accident, hospital, or nursing home setting,” she continues. “Whether or not I take a case, I try to provide people with valuable information to help them know exactly what happened and why. For those clients I do select, I work tirelessly to ensure they get compensated for their serious injuries that could have been avoided.”

‘Fire in the Belly’
Presently, Shelly’s team comprises herself as well as attorneys Gabrielle P. Kelerchian and Katherine Shea White. Paralegal Dawn Farley Nurney runs the office, and another paralegal, a receptionist, and two part-time employees all support the attorneys and clients.

“When I was with the Public Defender’s Office, I’d go in on the weekends to sit and read transcripts of old murder trials” she shares. “Now, I am excited to have a young lawyer on my team who reminds me of me; she has the same ‘fire in the belly,’ I call it.”

This passion is something that keeps Shelly focused even in challenging times. As one can imagine, a career dedicated to helping people in pain can bear a heavy weight.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have clients who I genuinely like and connect with, and who I have a lot of empathy for,” she says. “I know what it’s like to lose a loved one; my father was 50 when he died. I’ve always thought that if I’d lost my father because of medical negligence, it would’ve been so much harder to process.

“My clients are not stereotypical money-seekers,” she continues. “I don’t have clients like that, and I have declined many cases like that. In my practice, we accept only legitimate cases from people who simply want justice, and that motivates me.”

In addition to her passion for helping others, Shelly feels drawn to the scientific side of her work. Every time she takes on a new case, she enjoys delving into the medical aspects specific to that case. With the assistance of experts, she “learns the medicine.” As she puts it, “The medicine fascinates me.”

As for the future, Shelly has high aspirations split between the personal (spending time with her grandchildren) and the professional (continuing to excel on her clients’ behalf). One thing is for certain, according to Shelly: “I will continue to do my best for my clients, and go from there.”

Shelly Law Offices, LLC
70 West Oakland Ave., Suite 208
Doylestown, Pa.
(267) 454-7940

Photograph by Jody Robinson
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, July 2019.  
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