Never get in an argument with Tiffany Sheppard. That was true when she was a fifth-grader, and it remains so today.
Impressed with her prowess for persuasion even as a child, Sheppard’s parents encouraged to pursue a career as an attorney. Her law degree from Texas Tech University led to a stint practicing family law followed by prosecuting misdemeanors in the County Attorney’s Office and now trying felony cases in the District Attorney’s Office.
“I like the idea I get to represent the state of Texas and seek justice,” Sheppard said. “For me, that’s a noble endeavor. It’s wearing that white hat.”
She complimented the two DA’s for whom she works, Allison Palmer and John Best, as “fantastic bosses and exceptional leaders.”
“They encourage us to have our own style,” Sheppard said. “So it makes it very easy for us to just be who we are and to prosecute how we want to prosecute. They give us that freedom – ‘This is your case. You handle it how you want to, and I’ll support you.’ That’s unheard of in a lot of workplaces.”
Even so, the distressing nature of felony crimes has impacted her, making her more guarded in some regards, especially in the parenting of her children. She’s still learning to divorce her professional and personal lives.
“Most of the people in my office work hard to separate the two and compartmentalize, but inevitably it’s going to affect you in some way,” she said. “For me, it’s still an ongoing process of learning to cope with it because I’m just recently into the felony world and I see a lot more disturbing things.”
Sheppard has also sought to serve her community through the Tom Green County Young Lawyers Association. As its president, she spearheaded a holiday event at a shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children. The lawyers provided a holiday meal, gifts, family photos and free legal advice.
“I have had to decide what’s most important to me,” Sheppard said. “For me, it’s going to be any protected class. Anything I think is going to make San Angelo a better place for our children is what I’m going to say yes to.”
In keeping with that mission, she also serves on the boards of Meals for the Elderly and the Junior League of San Angelo. She had to overcome her own misperceptions about the latter. She has learned that the Junior League, which she once viewed as a sorority, works tirelessly to support underprivileged children.
Fellow attorney Sara Giddings, a former 20 Under 40 honoree, described Sheppard as “willing to put others before herself when she knows that she can make an impact in the community.” Sheppard responded that she doesn’t label herself a leader.
“I would much rather see us all succeed,” she said. “We don’t know where people are in their lives and what they’re going through. Meeting them where they are and helping them back up to get to a goal is true leadership.”