After being interviewed in Pakistan this week for the position of national coach, the former Australia paceman had a long conversation with Shoaib at a training camp and watched him bowl.
"He's a vital cog to them being top of the tree," Lawson told Friday's The Australian newspaper. "At 32, he's still got two or three very good years left in him."
Former Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore was interviewed by a Pakistan Cricket Board panel on Thursday as one of three possible replacements, along with Whatmore's compatriots Richard Done and Lawson, for Bob Woolmer, who died of natural causes at the World Cup in March.
International Cricket Council high performance manager Done, a former New South Wales fast bowler now based in Dubai, met the panel last Sunday.
Lawson said he was impressed with what he saw of Shoaib.
"I had a good chat to him and saw him bowl a bit in a practice game," Lawson said.
"He looks pretty good. He bowled four or five overs and bowled sharply. He looks fit and by all accounts has been training hard."
Lawson believes that Shoaib's future will be determined by how well his body copes with recent operations.
"It depends how his knees go. He's had some knee surgery," Lawson said.
"Pakistan, like everyone else in international cricket, have a pretty hectic schedule coming up.
"A lot will depend on how players are managed. I'm sure they would like him to be fit three-quarters of the time."
Lawson played down any concerns about coaching Pakistan.
"I was pretty impressed with their organisation and I think it's blown out of proportion a little bit about safety issues in Pakistan," he said.