Local businessman uses law degree in daily work

By Katie Demeria

Brandon Sheppard operates a lawn care business that, according to him, solves problems for customers — a characteristic made especially efficient by his law degree.

Sheppard, executive manager of Weed Man’s franchise in Winchester, graduated from West Virginia University’s law school in 2004.

“Admittedly, I started law school with virtually no intention of going into it professionally,” Sheppard said.

Weed Man’s Winchester district covers a wide area, from West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle down to Harrisonburg and including Fauquier County. It employs around 30 people.

It offers lawn care services, such as fertilization, weed control and aeration, providing services that the customer cannot otherwise do themselves, according to Sheppard.

Sheppard’s father began the business while Sheppard was still pursuing his degree. Since then, both his father and younger brother still work there, continuing the family’s tradition of working together — they did so in Ontario, Canada, where Sheppard grew up, as well.

Sheppard said he knew his ultimate goals would require either a law degree or a master of business administration degree. He went with the one he found more fun.

“I really enjoyed the study of law and the processes of reasoning and problem solving and logic,” he said. “It’s a very useful reasoning process to have at your disposal, but particularly in business.”

The likelihood that Sheppard will begin practicing law professionally is very slim, he said. Right now he uses the degree largely for volunteer work: In 2007 he worked for Lawyers Without Borders in Namibia, covering a treason case.

But that background, however unconventional, aids Sheppard on a daily basis, he said.

Running advanced businesses such as Weed Man, he added, which incorporate a lot of moving pieces, with several state and federal regulations, requires “more than just a casual grasp of the necessary skills.”

“Whether just simple reasoning or thought processes to make a more measured and less emotional decision, it’s something that’s used daily,” he said.

Attorneys, he pointed out, must go into courtrooms thinking how making argument X would likely draw certain points from the opposing council. Those working in business must oftentimes approach situations in a similar manner.

Having a law background allows Sheppard to approach his job in a more versatile way. That versatility is especially necessary in today’s job market, he added.

When he was in school, Sheppard said he was told that the job market “is not what it was for your parents.”

“You’re not going to go in and start working for the same company for the rest of your life. You’re going to move around,” he said. “Expect change.”

“And so whether it’s flexibility in your skill set or in your ability from an intellectual standpoint, versatility is key,” he continued.

Sheppard also pointed out that education is only beneficial when the student puts in effort.

“Fundamentally, your attitude and the way you approach your education has almost more to do with your education than where you go to school,” he said.

To learn more about Weed Man, visit http://tiny.cc/48tclx.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com