GETTING TO KNOW: Shane Goodale


Shane Goodale grew up in Terre Haute, Ind. — home of Indiana State University and its most famous basketball player, Larry Bird. After high school, Goodale attended Indiana State, graduating with honors in English.

Goodale worked a variety of jobs after college, including sales positions, and teaching various grades at different schools, as well as teaching tennis to all ages. In 2004, Goodale decided to follow his main goal in college and attend law school. He and his wife, Ronda, moved to Michigan where he attended and graduated from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School in Lansing.

Goodale began a private practice focusing on nonprofit law in Okemos, which was interrupted in 2015 when his 10-year-old son, Will, died of a brain tumor a few months after the diagnosis.

A Meridian Township resident, Goodale has begun working with Church Wyble, a division of Grewal Law in Okemos.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

What is something most people don't know about you?

I’ve died twice on two separate occasions. During one of those times, I was involved in a motorcycle accident that left me with an open head injury, many broken bones throughout my body, and paralyzed from the waist down. I’ve learned most people wonder what happened but don’t know how to ask. I’ve become very open and am happy to talk about it.

Why did you become a lawyer?

After the accident, my life outlook and goals changed. I wanted to do something beneficial to others and that I could do for the rest of my life, regardless if I walked again. I was torn between medical school or law school. Considering my background and abilities, law school was a better fit.

What are your best memories of law school?

While a 3L, I founded and help run a free legal clinic at a local homeless shelter where law students assisted. That clinic continued for four years. I was the first student recipient of the Great Deeds award at Cooley. Also, I was sponsored for admission to the State Bar by Professor Otto Stockmeyer and sworn in by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanaugh. 

What’s most exciting in your professional life right now?

I have a new legal opportunity that is exciting and fun. Exciting to see what can happen when good minds come together.

What are you better at than everyone else you know?

I’ve always been told I’m extremely witty. When I’m in a comfortable situation, the words flow.

What would surprise people about being a lawyer?

I think most non-lawyers would be surprised by the secondary benefits I discovered when my son was sick. In all the doctor offices and hospitals in Lansing, Boston and Chicago that we visited, there was a change in the room air when it was discovered I was a lawyer. It was amazing how the attention and level of care increased, and unfortunate that it changed because of a title. Why is not that heightened awareness practiced on all?

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been?

After college, I was accepted to a master’s degree program at a University of Sussex in southern England.  It was fun to experience the stony southern beaches, driving on the opposite side of the road and watching the finals of Wimbledon at the campus bar while drinking a Guinness. I hope to go to Wimbledon next year. 

What is the most exciting thing about your personal life today?

I’m in the process of creating a new life that could be both interesting and exciting. I’ve always liked getting involved in many things and am anxious to see where that leads me. 

What do you do to relax?

Drive. I do much of my thinking and relaxing while behind the wheel. I enjoy country driving and enjoying the scenery.  

What is one thing you would like to learn to do?

Write poetry like John Donne and Rudyard Kipling.

What is the best advice you ever received?

My dad told me about credit cards and credit scores—to try and use them only when you had enough money to pay cards off when the first billing came. I now reap those benefits.

What drives you the most?

The pursuit of perfection. 

What are your favorite quotes?

“I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see that you are unarmed.”  And, “Nothing sweeter than the taste of victory.”

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?

Focus! You have the world in the palm of your hand. 

What can’t you live without?

I would find it hard to live without a laptop computer and an Internet connection. They are my windows to the world. And a cutting board to put across my lap at the office, to make it easier to carry files.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?

To be able to walk at 6’2” again. I would be on the tennis court most of that day.

How has your disability changed you beyond the obvious?

I’m very focused and driven unlike ever before. It’s hard to stop me when I’m doing something.  And, I’ve realized tragedies don’t just happen to others—now I’m that other person. I can see things through the eyes of others and empathize more than before. 

The loss of your son in 2015 must surely have been the hardest loss you have ever suffered. How do you go on after that?

I now take it day to day; some days are better than others. The pain will always be there, but I get through the days remembering the fun we had, his smile, and talking about him and showing his pictures to others.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My son’s 4th grade school pictures.  It was always difficult to get him to take a serious, genuine picture, but this was his time. As you see, I’m a proud father.

Favorite local hangouts?

Up until June 2015, I spent the most time at Ralya Elementary in Haslett, which my son attended. Now I enjoy going to small town festivals and carnivals. We always took our son to them, dressed in a tie-dye shirt so we could easily spot him.

What do you wish someone would invent?

I wish someone would create a cure for all cancers and a time traveling machine so I could go back and bring my son here for the cure. I wish someone would create a way to Skype to heaven. I would love to talk to my son, also to my dad Roger and hear his continued advice. No matter my age, he would always advise me as if I was 13. I would gladly act 13 to hear his advice now. 

Who is on your guest list for the ideal dinner party?

 My son and my father; William Shakespeare; John Donne; Ronald Reagan; and Pete Johnson. Oh, and my dog in heaven, Craig. 

What’s your favorite charity?

I created the nonprofit Will Goodale Memorial Foundation, to raise scholarships for students wanting to become police officers, as did Will, and to raise awareness of early detection of cancers. The foundation will have a yearly kickball event near the end of each school year, hosted by Meridian Township with a date TBA. Donations and sponsors are now accepted.

Has your son’s death changed your outlook on life?

Definitely. I’ve always been conservative in most everything I do. But losing Will made me realize my time has come twice already and I’m still here and I need to live my borrowed days to the fullest.

Some say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m a much stronger person now than ever before.