The Visionary’s Manifesto in association with Heart of Cool Presents Attorney: Shan Dimitris Potts “The External Optimist”
When we think about attorneys it’s either in black or white, good or bad depending on which direction the legal pendulum swings. This week’s candidate for The Visionary’s Manifesto is going to break all previous perceptions of what you may have surmised about the so-called calculated nature of individuals who practice law. I think the narrative that is going to be put forth will usher in the tide of a new awakening and social dynamic as it pertains to how we can look through the prism of the different segments and aspects of law and find within the contextual fabric the raw emotional human dynamic that it was meant to protect and serve. This is the new understanding that I gained while speaking with our next candidate, a man who believes with every fiber of his being in the value of second chances and helping those who feel that there are no other options left. A man who is courageous and forthright in his vision and yet humble enough to understand that he can’t do it all on his own, an individual with intellect, talent and an inexhaustible drive motivated by what he views as the difference between right and wrong, fair and just without the gravity of politics to sway his course. Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great honor that I introduce attorney Shan Potts, someone I deem a champion for the people because he would never admit to such accolades due to his heartfelt commitments towards serving those in need so please take your virtual seats because court is now in session!
HoC: What characteristics define you as the external optimist?
SP: When you say someone is an optimist you think about that term in relationship to someone who is not an optimist or a realist, it’s like a binary. It’s a choice that one makes, they are either an optimist or a pessimist but I think for myself the characteristic is that there was no other choice where I was concerned. There’s a certain direction that you face and you kind of move in that path, my parents reinforced the positive mannerisms such as always be nice to people always smile and have a kind word because there are many folks that have it a lot worse than you can imagine. I was pointed in a specific direction of looking beyond my own comforts at a young age and never given an option to somehow take for granted those things that I was blessed with. There was a direction and purpose albeit a constitution of sorts instilled within my belief system to stand for something meaningful that resonates from an intrinsic place. I can however be very naïve but I’d rather be naïve and happy than anything else.
HoC: What events in your life encouraged you to become an attorney?
SP: As a small child around 7 or 8 years old I was very inquisitive, my father had this big white Eldorado vehicle and as he was driving me to some outing I would sit in the back and start asking him a bunch of questions like, “why do they say when it rains it pours?” I threw probably around twenty questions at him and he would answer them. I’ve always been that kid who had a question ready to fire at someone, my gift of engagement became something of a commonality within my adventuresome youthfulness. I remember going to Disney Land and there was this Japanese kid who I befriended and it was great learning about his background. I chose this career because it was another way for me to engage with people, I basically found a career that fit my personality. I could have easily been a teacher because of the high engagement factor.
HoC: What type of environment were you raised in?
SP: I’m the youngest of two older brothers and we were raised in a working-class environment beset with inner-city surroundings of LA and a loving single mother who adhered to a strong work ethic. In my mind it was like a scene from the Brady Bunch because I had these two older brothers who were very protective which made it ideal because it allowed me to be very creative and even though there were gangs and I was aware of what was going on my family had a strong nucleus. I had a nickname “little Potts” because I was friendly with everyone from gang members to the students in the school I attended (laughter).
HoC: Your law practice specialises in immigration issues, why did you feel the need to take on that specific area of law?
SP: I lived and worked in Spain for a while and when I returned to the states I started working in environments that would keep me connected with the language and culture. I was working with a non-profit called The Rescue where I was introduced to immigration law which gave me an opportunity to meet people from all over the world. I was afforded the opportunity to travel and even worked as an election monitor in El Salvador, I engaged people from different walks of life and cultures and decided it would be a worthy cause to undertake given my newfound passion for helping others.
HoC: Can you tell our audience how The Better Start (a post-conviction clearing program) came into existence and the purpose it serves?
SP: My first job as an attorney was with a criminal defense firm where I became versed in conviction appeals in relation to the constitutionality clauses. A conviction is basically a contract between the individual and the prosecutor where they enter into a plea agreement and like any contract it involves the understanding of the terms of that agreement. The Better Start came about from my many years in the field of law towards helping in the process of post-convictions where I assist people in challenging their convictions and clearing their records which allows them to become eligible for relief and immigration this service also assists US citizens by way of clearing their records for employment and other such lifestyle options that they would otherwise be restricted from.
HoC: What do you most enjoy about being an attorney? What are the most challenging aspects of your chosen career?
SP: Each day is different, there is a business discipline I possess along with the sheer enjoyment of helping people. Merging the new technologies within my business model and finding new and innovative ways to reach our targets and market acquisition, I have a young but resourceful staff where each of them brings a certain level of diversity, experience and intelligence to the table. The challenges being the ever-evolving political aspects of our governing entities and what we do within the realm of immigration such as the current climate of policy changes. We are dealing with clients who have valid fears due to the enforcement of existing laws as it relates to the immigration issue. These elements only serve to empower me and my colleagues to push the envelope and advocate strategically within the guidelines set forth to alleviate those barriers and find solutions.
HoC: How would you describe your colleagues?
SP: Like a bag of jellybeans! (intense heartfelt laughter) Every different flavor and color is how I would describe them. Attorneys are like artists, they all have different ideas towards solving a similar problem, as it relates to immigration some attorneys are social justice type and some are more business savvy. My colleagues are probably more politically to the left for example when President Trump had issued the executive travel ban we were all at the airport for hours on end advocating and offering support but that just speaks to our level of passion and dedication.
HoC: If you had not become a lawyer with a successful law practice what other field of work would you have chosen?
SP: I would have chosen the field of education specific to teaching philosophy. I mentor students and I love to pose the deep probing types of questions such as “why do you think and feel the way you do?”
HoC: What are your views in-regards to the current political climate that has drawn the attention of so many individuals in our nation?
SP: If anything it presents an opportunity, I would have never wished for our given set of circumstances but the reality of how we respond has become most prevalent. How do we meet the fear and confusion with that of becoming educated on the issues being debated in our nation? It’s easy to place the blame and play good guy vs. bad guy and you see that play out on most of the news outlets with the pundits throwing blame back and forth yelling in most cases and not giving space to the agreed upon solutions that can come from having a respectable discussion.
HoC: What final thoughts would you like to leave with our audience?
SP: That this is not about me or my practice within the realm of law, I want to communicate a certain positivity and light when people follow their inner-calling and operate at their highest selves. I would like for people to realize regardless of age, race, or gender to see themselves without limitations. Never accept the unfair situations in life as fact, know that you are the master of your own journey and take back your power. Dare to dream and then turn those dreams into living breathing truth bearing goals.