by Carol Taber
Having earned his law degree from Wake Forest University in 1996 and passing the North Carolina Bar exam, Keith Shackleford could have practiced law anywhere in the state.
When asked why he chose Wake Forest, the dapper, bow-tied lawyer smiles and says, “Because it’s home.”
Keith and his cousins spent the long hot summers of their childhood at the Wake Forest home of their grandmother, Esther Shackleford.
Esther ran a local sweet shop on North Allen Road.
Keith’s favorite memory is being out and about all day, riding his bike all over Wake Forest and doing “arts and crafts” at the Dubois Center with his cousins.
As an adult, he realizes his grandma probably had her grandkids enrolled in some type of summer program at the center, but Keith just remembers the fun of hanging out and “making stuff” with his cousins and friends.
According to Keith, his family has been part of Wake Forest since 1911. His grandfather, William Lee, lived on North Taylor Street as a child and is buried on North Taylor Street as well. And, grandma Esther, and several members of her family, are buried in the Friendship Chapel Cemetery.
There is a paver engraved in the memory of Esther and William Lee Shackleford at Centennial Plaza on South Brooks Street.
In 1996, Keith began his law career with the firm Warren, Perry and Anthony. Starting out, he was a general practice lawyer.
Over time, he took on more of the personal injury and criminal practice work of the firm. Criminal practice in Wake Forest meant mostly misdemeanors and traffic citations.
When I mentioned I was going to interview Keith for a profile there was more than one Wake Forest mom who plied me with a “Keith story” about how he helped her child with a traffic ticket or two. As one mom put it, he was there when her “teens were being foolish.”
In 2012, he and James Warren formed Warren Shackleford, Attorneys.
Changing with the times
Over the last two decades as the legal industry has changed, Keith’s legal practice has changed with it.
Today, Keith’s practice areas are estate planning, estate administration or probate administration, business formation and litigation. Most everyone needs a will and that will is different for different stages of life and should be adjusted over time. He sees value in helping his clients write a will that should they die, makes it easier for the remaining family at that stage of family life.
It is refreshing to interact with Keith. He is not a hard-sell lawyer; He admits that it is possible even with a complicated estate for a lay person to work the estate through probate on his or her own.
It is tedious, detailed work that requires the probate administrator to keep precise notes, ensure all bills and taxes are paid and filling deadlines are met on a timely basis.
Keith sees the importance of his services in helping families through all the legal issues surrounding the death of a loved one. He helps make a difficult time easier, especially for those who are overwhelmed by the probate process.
Keith is active in the Wake Forest community life as well. He has served on the Board of Trustees for Wake Technical Community College and the Board of Directors of the Wake Forest Chamber of Commerce. Currently he is on the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority of Wake County and the Board of Trustees for Fishburne Military School.
When not working or sitting on boards, Keith is a triathlete and member of Wake Forest-Rolesville Alumni Chapter (WFRAC) of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Keith completed Iron Man Raleigh 70.3 earlier this year. Currently, he is training to compete in his first full-length Iron Man event, Iron Man-Maryland, in October. He will have to swim 2.4 miles in the fresh water of the Choptank River with water temperatures varying between 53 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
The 112-mile bike ride takes athletes through Dorchester County and into a wildlife refuge. The course is flat, fast and scenic.
The day finishes with a 26.2-mile run on flat country roads offering numerous straightaways — opportunities for athletes to size up their competition.
This is the kind of guy you might want for a lawyer — just saying.
And the gift goes on
Esther Shackleford passed away in 1994. Her grandson continues to be an integral part of the Wake Forest community. From one generation to the next — because it is home.
The offices of Warren Shackleford are located at 343 South White Street, in the heart of downtown Wake Forest. See their website, wakeforestattorneys.com.