Ann Shy Law Firm PLLC

Ann Shy Law Firm PLLC

Mediation: Efficient, Affordable, Private Solutions,Family Law/ADR: Restructure Without Ruin

Firm Overview

Dispute Redesign is a Carrboro law firm committed to client-centered approaches to examining conflict and creating lasting solutions. Our practice framework is alternative dispute resolution, and is informed by the intersection of law, ethics and quality-of-life. Dispute Redesign was established in November 2009.

Example cases

Sometimes a case is as simple as a new client hopes it will be when they first describe their situation in our initial consultation, for example, when a married client needs to construct a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement in preparation for divorce. When that's the case, it is a joy to assist them as their vision is accomplished. Other times, a client's initial vision is compromised by what unfolds over the course of the process, for example when a client initially believed a separation and divorce would proceed amicably. When that's the case, we work hard together to determine how much of the original vision can be retained or restored as we adapt our plan to the realities at hand, such as the resentment and lack of cooperation by the other spouse. By anchoring the big picture to the original intent, my goal is to help clients preserve a sense of control and integrity while navigating significant change.

Whether I am the neutral mediator, or the lawyer preparing a client for mediation, I help parties identify and address the root causes of conflict which allows them to develop more lasting solutions. For example, if one party distrusts the motivations of the other party and characterizes that motivation as a need to be in control, rather than dismissing the other person we explore how that need to control can be dismantled so it doesn't bear so heavily on all interactions between the parties. An inadequately mediated custody case may never address trust issues, and can lock parties into constant conflict based on distrust. Custody isn't just devising a visitation schedule, it's designing agreed-upon methods that increase confidence among parents that their children's well-being is protected regardless of which parent's care the children are under.

Main Office

118 East Main Street Room 200

Carrboro NC 27510


(919) 627-1044



Free Initial Consultation?

No, $100 consultation fee.

Services Offered For Fixed Fees?


Hourly Rates

$200 per hour if hourly rate applies.

Office Information

Office Hours

Flexible office hours.

Emergency After Hours


How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

The least disparaging and contentious approach when families are undergoing significant transformation is ideal. I am committed to bringing people as close to that ideal as possible. Whether it's no fight, or a fair fight, the future must be kept in view when the present demands attention. My commitment to fairness and decency applies to all aspects of life, and family law is where fairness and decency is most valuable and can be the least practiced. As a conflict practitioner, family law chose me as much as I chose it.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

I encourage clients to seek information about their situation and to share that information with me. If it's good information it benefits both of us; if it's not good information, it benefits my client for us to discuss why the information isn't reliable or applicable. A proactive client can increase the client's sense of self-control during their legal challenge. By understanding what information they seek, where they're looking, and what conclusions they're drawing from it helps me understand my client more deeply which helps me advise my client more specifically.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

Some new clients bring their mediated or self-constructed separation agreements to me to review, revise, and file at the Register of Deeds or to enter as a court order.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

Some new clients hire me for the specific task of providing one or two consultations as they represent themselves in custody or child support matters.

Ann Shy

Ann Shy Law Firm PLLC

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Ann Shy worked in public health in Research Triangle Park, NC, on projects funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Bank. Projects included bioterrorism education, breast cancer research, Hepatitis vaccine promotion, and international consulting in emergency risk communication.

My background in law, dispute resolution, health policy, and philosophy puts essential tools in clients' hands to navigate sensitive quality-of-life conflicts with legally binding results. Entering law school in my early 40's gave me a depth of understanding about justice and the law that is less likely in recent college graduates. Having been through a divorce that included divorce attorneys and mediation, and continuing to co-parent two sons with my prior husband, informs my approach to client integrity. As a consumer of legal services, I encountered attorney attitudes, attorney fees, and attorney communications that sometimes brought relief and sometimes brought greater distress under already stressful circumstances. I aspire to serve others using the same high standards that I expected when I was a client.

My style is client-centered. I deliver firm, direct advice to clients based on a thorough understanding of their needs, wants, and expectations. I achieve this understanding through the unconventional business practice of not billing for reading/listening to/responding to emails and phone messages from clients. I believe information is power, and therefore must reject the billable hour when it limits the flow of information between me and my clients.

Personal interests:

Martial arts - for exercise, stamina, joy, meditation, philosophy and to increase my effectiveness as a conflict practitioner.


Bar Number: 40067
North Carolina, 2009


North Carolina Central University School of Law
J.D., 2009

UNC School of Public Health
Masters in Health Policy and Administration, 2000

Boston College
B.A. in Philosophy, 1988

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