Happy Valentine’s Day!
We commemorate this special day with the introduction of an inaugural annual publication of the series, “Lawyers in Love,” that is suggested by our own Professor Pat Bauer. In this issue, we begin by sharing Professor Bauer’s thoughts and observations. What follows, then, are stories about three of our alumni couples who fit the “Lawyers in Love” profile. (If you are among this elite group and would like to share your story next year, please let us know! We’d love to talk with you.) In the meantime, we hope you will enjoy learning about the range of legal targets Cupid’s arrow has found over the years….
Because my wife and I were law school classmates, I’ve been perhaps inordinately aware of the circumstance I refer to as “lawyers in love.” Over time my allusion to the title track of an early ‘80s Jackson Browne album that inspired a Rose Bowl parade marching unit with matching three-piece suits and briefcases has faded in strength but the phrase’s semi-oxymoronish alliteration still effectively invokes perhaps distinctive situations of shared personal and professional lives.
Going to the same law school at the same time with the same classmates and faculty provided the two of us with a common foundation that has helped us navigate various personal and professional matters as our lives have unfolded. Over my years at the law school, I’ve shared thoughts about the experience of being married to another lawyer with student couples I’ve gotten to know, and curious about where they’ve gone and what they’ve done, from time to time I’ve suggested that the Iowa Advocate devote some space to what I figure must be a rather sizable group of “Iowa Law grads who are married to other Iowa Law grads.”
It recently was explained to me that the set of such persons hadn’t previously been identified as such, but with some spreadsheet sorting workarounds, it seems that about five percent of all Iowa Law grads are married to other Iowa Law grads and that the percentage in many classes since I came here in 1979 frequently has been close to ten percent. More than half are married to classmates with another third being married to someone from one or two classes behind or ahead. The earliest classes including a married couple are 1966 and 1967, and the couple from classes the furthest apart (29 years) are separated in age by about a year and a half.
Although the extent and general dimensions of what might be termed “Iowa Law2”can be indicated by aggregate statistics, a fuller sense of where Iowa Law grads married to Iowa Law grads have gone and what they have done necessitated the further step of talking to some of them. There’s obviously no such thing as a “typical” or “representative” couple, but hopefully the insights and accomplishments of those contacted and willing to be a part in this series of articles will provide some sense of the range of “lawyers in love” who’ve graduated from the Iowa Law School.
- by Pat Bauer
Cindy (Class of 2010) and John (Class of 2011) met in pre-school. Many years later, they met again as students at the UI College of Law, where they saw each other occasionally. But it wasn’t until after Cindy had graduated, when she was in Des Moines receiving the Leadership Award from the Iowa Bar Association, that cupid’s arrow hit its mark. John, who was clerking at the Dickinson Law Firm in Des Moines at the time, was in attendance at the event, and sought Cindy out to congratulate her. They had an extended talk and John, having enjoyed his conversation with Cindy immensely, hurried home to call a mutual friend. “Is that Cindy girl single?” he asked. Relieved by the answer, he requested Cindy’s phone number, and called her to arrange their first date.
After that, though Cindy was working at the Shuttleworth firm in Cedar Rapids, she often was able to make the time to be with John in Iowa City. In fact, many of the dates with John, who was in his third year of law school, involved attendance at law school events—to the point that Cindy felt like she was attending a fourth year of law school! (Dean Agrawal, noting Cindy’s ubiquitous presence at the law school, was puzzled—thinking, on the one hand, that Cindy certainly had graduated, but fearing, on the other hand, that memory may have failed her.)
Finally, in 2012, John and Cindy were married. He secured a position at the Dickinson Law Firm, where he had clerked, and Cindy joined him in Des Moines in a new position at the Brown/Winnick Law Firm. Their offices are just a block apart, so Cindy and John can meet for lunch easily. Cindy’s work is transactional—corporate transactions, benefits, tax, and insurance work. John is a commercial litigator, working for different business entities in a variety of ways, and doing some banking regulatory work.
Cindy and John share a broad interest in the law, which has proven to be enjoyable as they exchange general stories about their very different work experiences and related problematic or challenging questions. Each benefits from the wise insights and perspectives of the other—about the law, and other business-related questions. Conversely, each also enjoys hearing and learning about unfamiliar aspects of the law from the other.
Beyond the mutual enjoyment brought about by their shared interests and intensity, they benefit from the shared understanding of what working in the law requires. They understand that there are times when work pressures are such that solitary focus on work is required. But they also understand the importance of finding balance in their lives. They help each other to remember that there’s a time to put work aside, and to make time to enjoy life. Cindy and John believe that this flexibility is essential for two “lawyers in love.” Further, they believe that each person must understand and respect the career ambitions and goals of the other. Each person needs to be willing, at times, to make a sacrifice, but the other person needs to fully recognize and appreciate that sacrifice, and must be prepared also to make a sacrifice at some other time.
Cindy and John love to talk and to discuss. They carefully consider big decisions and talk through them thoroughly before agreeing on a course of action. And they enjoy friendly arguing. But if there’s any other advice they might offer to other “lawyers in love,” it would be, “Pick your battles.”
Nick (Class of ’88) and Callie (Class of ’88) met on the first day of law school. Nick noticed Callie immediately, and sought an introduction from a mutual friend. Nick had come to Iowa Law from Chicago, where he had worked for a labor union, paying his way through his undergrad years at Loyola–often taking night classes. It was Nick’s firm intention to get his law degree and return to Chicago to practice. Callie had come to Iowa from Indiana University—a confirmed Hoosier. Family is important to her, and after graduation she wanted to find a position not too far away from family. Nick and Callie’s dreams were fulfilled. In the end, they both chose to move to Chicago after graduation, where Nick is now a Circuit Court Judge, hearing the major felony cases for the City of Chicago. Callie is an Associate Judge, presiding over domestic violence cases. They also were married, and have a daughter, Hannah, who is fourteen years old. Theirs is a fairy tale story. But without Cupid’s persistence, in the face of “Clueless Callie,” this story could not have been told.
Nick and Callie were in the last class to graduate from the old law school. Callie remembers studying in the library, going to the copy machine, and, miraculously, Nick would always appear. And Nick was always on hand to give her a ride home. In response to her protests that she didn’t want to take him “out of his way,” Nick replied, “No problem—I just live around the corner.” (“Around the corner” apparently was a euphemism for “On the other side of town.”) On one such car ride, Nick breached a cardinal rule: he excoriated Hoosier Basketball, and Coach Bobby Knight. Who knows how he lived to recover from that fatal error.
From the start, Nick was “sweet” on Callie. “It couldn’t have been more obvious.” But notwithstanding his overt efforts, the ritual of copy machine meetings and rides home was to continue through and past the first semester of law school, with no apparent progress. Then came February 14th, and Nick invited Callie to the Valentine’s Day Dance. He brought her flowers and a card picturing a crystal ball, with the wording “I see romance in our future.” Callie finally grasped that Nick was interested in her!
Their first official date took them to Givanni’s. Nick insisted on lavish selections, including appetizers and a fine bottle of wine. As dessert came, Nick excused himself. Only later did Callie learn that Nick had run to the money machine to scrape together funds to pay what was to be an exorbitant bill. As school and their relationship progressed, both Callie and Nick ended up working as servers to help make ends meet—Callie as a waitress at Givanni’s, and Nick as a bartender at Bo James. On her visits to Bo James, Nick always treated Callie with special drinks. Only much later, did Callie reveal that she doesn’t like wine–or any alcohol, for that matter; and Nick admitted that all that he really enjoys is an occasional beer. Such were the sacrifices made for love! But it wasn’t until 1992 that they were to be married.
Still, upon graduation, their relationship was strong enough that Nick and Callie both went to Chicago—perhaps to be close to family, and perhaps, conveniently, to be close to one another. Nick’s first position was as a State’s Attorney in Cook County, which he held for nine years. In late 1997 he was appointed by the Supreme Court to a judicial vacancy on the Circuit Court, where he has been a judge ever since. Initially, Callie worked as an Assistant Public Defender for ten years. For that entire period of time, she and Nick worked in opposing offices. (These facts conjure up the famous pairing of Hepburn and Tracy, as married prosecutor and defense lawyer, in Adam’s Rib. In the film, the couple battles in the courtroom and at home, over equality, women’s rights and the law. More about this later…)
Callie went on to work for three years as the Head of the Office of Professional Standards within the police department—a unit not unlike internal affairs, that investigates excessive use of force by the police. After that, Callie became the first woman appointed as Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Corrections—a position she held for three years. From there, she moved to the legal department of the Chicago Housing Authority, where she worked for one year. And then, in 2007 she was appointed as Associate Judge, the position she now holds.
Nick and Callie agree that over the years their viewpoints have been greatly broadened. Nick, the prosecutor, has come to understand the perspectives of the defense lawyer through Callie. And Callie, the defense lawyer, has learned to see the prosecutor’s viewpoint from watching Nick. Early on, Nick, who won eighty cases and only lost four, was almost bugged to hear about a Callie victory in a jury trial as defense attorney. At that time, his sarcastic advice to other “lawyers in love” might have been “It’s o.k. not to talk about work!” Over time, the broad range of professional experiences, which Nick and Callie have shared with one another, has also been critical in their personal transformations. Each of them now has a richer and more balanced understanding, which has been of great value to them in their work as judges.
But this evolution didn’t occur without some personal stress. Callie observes that it was not easy to learn to “pick their battles,” especially when law school had trained them to “battle everything.” At work, Nick and Callie both engaged all day in an adversarial way, and came home and continued that kind of engagement with one another. On one hand, their strongly-held viewpoints led them to mutual respect, and ultimately to the art of compromise. On the other hand, they learned another strategy: finding and spending time with friends who aren’t lawyers.
For Nick and Callie, Iowa remains a touch stone. They return to Iowa once a year for vacation with Hannah—often visiting the State Fair. Nick’s grandfather had attended Iowa, and his grandparents and Mom had lived in Manchester. For Callie, the deep connection to Iowa stems from Iowa Law, where Callie experienced a strong sense of community. She remembers Iowa Law as a family-, community-oriented place, where faculty and staff supported her academically, and personally, in numerous unexpected ways. It is that feeling of family and community that Nick and Callie took with them to Chicago, and that they renew annually, in their visit to Iowa.
Tom and Liz both graduated in the class of 1987. Tom recalls sitting in the student lounge in the old law school building early in their first semester, pouring over the photos in the “facebook” to acquaint himself with the other first year students. He came across one photo of a woman who had attended Sweet Briar College in Virginia. He thought to himself, “never heard of it.” That was it—the entirety of his observation. And then he moved on to the other photos.
For a year and a half, Tom and Liz saw each other in class, and occasionally visited at the old student mailboxes next to the Dean Hines’ office. Around holiday time in their second year, Liz’s roommate hosted a party at Vito’s, that Tom and Liz both attended and had a fun time talking together (something that Tom remembers vividly, but Liz not so much). Toward the end of their second year, they started dating, and things moved more quickly. Tom was clerking in Chicago that summer, and he drove back to Iowa a few time to spend time with Liz who was working in Des Moines. They finished their last year of law school in the new building. And at the end of that last year, in April, 1987, just before graduation, Tom and Liz became engaged. They were married that November. “We loved dating in law school. It’s such a great thing to share,” said Liz. “Tom and I spent a lot of time with people in the class who would laugh about it all, and did not take things too seriously. I think that has also been the best thing about our marriage and life together is that we laugh. We laugh at ourselves and at each other. This may not have anything to do with law school or being lawyers, but it has made the difference in our lives.”
Tom and Liz began married life in her home town of Des Moines, where Liz worked as an attorney with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and Tom clerked for Judge Ronald Longstaff for a year. In 1988 they moved to Saint Paul, intending to stay for only one year while Tom clerked for Judge Donald Lay. But as it turned out, they both loved Saint Paul, and when they had the opportunity to stay, they did. Tom joined the Winthrop & Weinstine firm, where he still practices, and Liz began working for LeVander, Vander Linden and Rydland.
In 1992, their first son, Tommy, was born. When he turned a year old, Liz quit her private practice position. Soon thereafter, she found an opportunity to job share as a trustee for First Bank (now U.S. Bank), which she held for three years. During that time, in 1994, their second son, Louie, was born. When the job sharing option was no longer available, Liz began working as an independent contractor, doing probate work, for her former law firm. Then six years ago another opportunity presented itself: working for The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, where she is now the Director of Individual and Planned Giving—a role she relishes. She laughs, explaining that while she has transformed herself professionally, she managed to land in a second profession “where people never want to see me coming.”
Tom has done quite a bit of appellate work—most recently arguing on behalf of the Minnesota Legislature to oppose a petition seeking to have a proposed constitutional amendment stricken from the ballot in the general election. The petition claimed that the language didn’t fairly describe the proposed amendment and claimed that the question should therefore be stricken from the ballot. For Tom this was a non-partisan constitutional issue. He believed that the right of the people to vote on any proposed amendment was at the heart of the case. In this instance, the proposed amendment involved the question of whether, among other things, voters should be required to present a government-issued I.D. in order to vote. Tom argued the case in the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Legislature prevailed. “Yes, he kept it on the ballot,” quipped Liz, “and I voted against it.”
Often, Tom has prepared and practiced his oral arguments with Liz—one of the benefits of having a lawyer spouse. They laugh now when remembering one such occasion, about fourteen years ago when Tom was preparing for an argument in a significant case before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Tom was ready. But it turned out there was to be one small problem. Son Louie came home from school with pink eye. And upon awakening on the morning of the oral argument, Tom was aghast to discover that the pink eye had been passed on to him!
His eyes were pink and puffy, and were streaming with tears. Not able to wear his contacts, Tom scrounged around in a drawer and produced the only other eyewear he owned at the time—a pair of early 1980’s era huge, round-rimmed glasses with coke-bottle lenses. Later that morning he argued before the panel, sporting those stylish frames and looking like a refugee from the cast of St. Elmo’s Fire. Though mortifying for Tom, he chuckled, remembering that the experience was even more traumatic for his client and partners who had entrusted him with this argument. The panel, on the other hand, was very considerate, and ultimately, down the road, the client prevailed.
Beyond the importance of finding fun in life, Liz and Tom advise other “lawyers in love” that having children eliminates the opportunity for over-doing professional or adversarial conversation between spouses—“because the focus is on our boys, whether they like it or not!”
Tom and Liz maintain that the most important thing is to be one’s own person. “Just because you are both trained in the law, you are not competing and you do not necessarily have to be interested in everything the other is doing. Law school prepares you for so much in the world. It teaches you to think and find answers.”
Reflecting on their good fortune and happiness in their personal and professional lives, Liz concludes, “As the saying goes in the Boyd Family ‘All I owe I owe to Iowa.’ That is so true for us.”
- by Gerhild Krapf, Class of 1985