Dallas Bar Association

After Hours

Mark Shank – Finding His Balance

by Caleb D. Trotter

Every attorney knows that finding a healthy balance between work and the rest of our lives can be a difficult undertaking. Albert Einstein once said that “[l]ife is like a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” If one truly must keep “moving” to find a balance in life, Gruber Hurst Johansen Hail & Shank LLP partner and renowned Dallas litigator Mark Shank has found a perfect way to keep his—literally and figuratively.

A commercial litigator for over 30 years, Mark is no stranger to the pressures that come along with a career in law. He is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law, as well as Labor and Employment Law, by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mark also has a lengthy record of leadership, most notably serving as the president of both the Dallas Young Lawyers Association and the Dallas Bar Association. Mark has been selected to the American College of Labor Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates, and has been named as one of the Best Lawyers in America for 17 straight years. With such a profound involvement in the community, on top of a demanding legal practice and being a husband and father, it is a wonder that Mark finds the time to indulge his other life passion: barefoot water-skiing.

When he was 12 years old, Mark moved with his parents to a small community in central Missouri called Lake of the Ozarks. It just so happened that his parents’ business was right next to the local water ski show. Mark learned how to ski barefoot at the age of 13, and progressed so quickly that soon he was the featured barefoot skier in that local ski show.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, Mark moved from Missouri to Texas to begin his legal career. Like many others, Mark soon lost touch with his beloved pastime, and nearly 12 years went by before he picked it up again. Over the years Mark’s self-professed “need for speed” has taken him from St. Louis, Missouri, to Lake Travis and Lake Texoma, all the way to a private lake in Sun Valley, Idaho, and even skiing with World Freestyle Champion Andrew DeVillars.

Mark explained the total release and focus that is needed to barefoot ski: “We spend a lot of time bouncing from issue to issue. There is a lot of stress associated with our lives, and barefoot skiing is so difficult … if you change your balance point just a tiny bit, down you go. You can’t be thinking about the law when you’re barefoot skiing.”

Mark keeps his balance not only on the water, but also in life—a strong example for all of us.

Caleb Trotter is an associate at Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C. He can be reached at ctrotter@munsch.com.

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