Many folks like to shear their plants into balls and cubes. I really don't. I like my plants to have a nice appearance, but with a bit more loose, natural look.
Beyond appearances, the main problem with shearing is that it ignores the underlying structural issues within a plant.... and, it's whats on the inside that really matters. Below we've highlighted some common structural problems with trees.
This oak has co-dominant leaders. The "fork" in the main stem will become a weak point in the future so should be removed during it's youth. Remember to only prune oaks in winter to reduce the spread of disease.
Similar structural issues happen with smaller shrubs too. Simply shearing only addresses the outside shape - not the structural problems.
Another reason not to shear is that shearing enhances density on the plants perimeter so much that there is little air flow through the plant. Loosening up the exterior and letting the air flow through helps reduce fungal problems.
For more info on pruning appropriately see http://hort.uwex.edu/articles/tag/pruning/