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A True Blue Champion for Abused Women
By Larry Teitelbaum

Kindl Shinn, L’09, and her parents, Becky and Bob, in the heart of the city she came to love.
Kindl Shinn, L’09, and her parents, Becky and Bob,
in the heart of the city she came to love.
Kindl Shinn, L’09, was working at a women’s shelter in her hometown, Concord, N.C. The porch, in grand southern tradition, was a gathering place. But it was something else, too: a perch. From there she could see, hear and feel the suffering of battered women, the torment, the loss of dignity and self-worth, and their flat-out fear of being alone and insolvent, which all too often drove them back to boyfriends and husbands for more abuse.

Her heart went out to these women. She talked to them, helped them find jobs, arranged child care. But, wish though she might, she did not have the training to offer one thing they sorely needed: legal counsel.

And this gap in her résumé got Shinn thinking about law school. Shinn filled that gap when she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School last May. Now she’s in a position, if she so chooses, to advocate for abused women in the future.

“It was the best thing I’ve ever done,” says Shinn. “I learned more from that experience than anything else. My understanding of people expanded…There’s a part of me that wants to go back and help all these women as they build their new lives.” Although Shinn won’t be working at the shelter anytime soon, she is staying close to home. She has been hired as an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan & Hartson; but the firm has deferred the start of her employment for one year. In the meantime, Shinn will be working as an assistant federal public defender in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Shinn is a true blue Carolinian. She was born and raised about 20 miles northeast of Charlotte. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, Shinn embarked on a personal odyssey. She went to Germany on a Fulbright grant. There she taught English, as well as courses on The American South and The American Electoral Process, to high school students in picturesque Koblenz, where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet. She also studied the ways Germany memorialized the Holocaust.

After returning from Germany, Shinn spent one summer as a field organizer in New Hampshire for John Kerry’s presidential campaign. She staffed the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, where she was assigned to look after the Swift Boat Veterans.

The election over, Shinn considered consulting and event planning. But the corporate track did not excite her. One night a family friend visited her parents and told Shinn about a women’s shelter run by the Cabarrus Victims’ Assistance Network. The woman, who was on the board of directors, told Shinn to drop by.

She did. And this visit, at least indirectly, sparked Shinn’s interest in law school.

Like many of her classmates, Shinn found the first year of law school challenging. She marveled at how hard some of her classmates studied, and wondered whether she had the same capacity. A month after she started, in fall 2006, Shinn and a few classmates decided to take a Saturday off from studying to go apple picking. One of her classmates was talking about a friend’s car accident. The talk turned to liability, and it dawned on everyone that they would never think about such things in the same way again. “Your brain feels like it’s bigger,” says Shinn. “There’s more in there.”

Shinn graduated cum laude. So much for her lack of capacity.

Now, yet again, she contemplates what’s next.

The attorney general’s office in North Carolina has a unit devoted to combating violence against women, and she is interested in that. Or might she return to the shelter?

She doesn’t know, though the shelter is never far from her mind — particularly one woman she came to care about. This woman had two children. She returned to the shelter after more problems with her mate. With Shinn’s assistance, she was working and doing well. One day Shinn picked up her client’s youngest child at the bus stop up the street from the shelter and dropped her off to her mom. Shinn waved, but the woman did not wave back. Like a mirage, she disappeared.

Law School CV
Managing Editor, University of Pennsylvania Law Review
Co-chair, EJF Auction
Co-founder, Y’allSA (Southern Law Students Association).