Alumni find long-lasting love at the Law School
While studying for classes or competing on the Duke Law softball team, these students met their future spouses and co-parents.
Law school may be an intense experience, but for these graduates, it wasn’t just because they had to study hard to pass their first-year classes. Many students make connections that lead to long-lasting relationships and even marriages. When we put out a call for Duke Law love stories, we received plenty of responses. These couples all met while attending the Law School; some have now been married for years, some have children together, and one is even teaching classes here now. In honor of Valentine’s Day, they agreed to share their romantic journeys with us.
Kamla Alexander ’01 and Antony “Tony” Sanacory ’01
A romantic tale of law reviews and lovebirds! Kamla and Tony met in August 1999, while both were working on the Alaska Law Review during their second year. Tony impressed and interested Kamla by cooking for her. Then, in January 2000, a fluke snowstorm hit Durham and closed the Law School for a week.
“Tony braved the snow and provided food again,” Kamla says. “Because we also were both into the classics, we watched highbrow movies Clerks, Mall Rats, American Pie, and Love Jones as enrichment.”
They spent their first date in Chapel Hill, enjoying the Chapel Hill Wine Bar and a Steel Pulse concert at Cat’s Cradle. Tony proposed in the spring of 2002, a year after the two had moved to Atlanta to work at law firms. A year later, they both said “I do” in Kamla's home country of Jamaica.
Kamla and Tony still call Atlanta home. It's where they've raised their 14-year-old daughter Marley – “the center of our world,” they say – and made a home for Piper, a Cockapoo and recent addition to their family.
“Being a two-lawyer household means everyone stays quite busy, but also that we can be a support for one another throughout the day and through career challenges,” Kamla says. Despite demanding jobs, Kamla works in-house at Dentsu International and Tony at Hudson Lambert Parrott Walker, both still make time to get away to Napa Valley each year for a few days of well-deserved rest and relaxation.
Gabriela Bersuder JD/LLM ’14 and Edward Bersuder JD/LLM ’14
Gabriela and Edward had already been dating for a couple of years by the time they enrolled at Duke, but their love deepened here. “After surviving Ernie Young's Con Law class, we knew we could get through anything,” Gabriela says. “Well, almost. We didn't make it through campout. As Ed had easily made it through five weeks of campout as an undergrad, it appears I was the weak link.”
During their time at the Law School, they bonded and commiserated over their many milestones together: DLJ, moot court, and former Duke Law Professor Mitu Gulati's International Debt Finance (and Sovereign Debt Crises), to name a few.
“Surprisingly, bar prep in Durham was one of our most cherished memories,” Gabriela says. “Durham had by then become a real hub of delicious food and amazing beer, and we had a great summer.”
After law school, they were married, and now they both practice at big law firms in New York and live in the suburbs with their daughter. Both recently transitioned to careers in finance. In 2021, Gabby joined Burford Capital, a litigation finance firm, as vice president in the commercial litigation investment team, and after seven years at Simpson Thacher, Edward is now vice president in the Capital Markets Group at Blackstone.
Vanessa (Pi) Clark ’09 and Randy Clark ’09
Vanessa Pi and Randy Clark met on their first day of LEAD Week when they sat next to each other in Legal Analysis, Research and Writing, their first small-section course.
“Our best memories of law school all relate to what we both valued about going to Duke: We weren’t stuck in a big city we couldn’t afford to enjoy so we were able to see much of North Carolina and the surrounding states together,” Vanessa said.
They started dating during their first year in 2006, planned their wedding in their third year, and married in 2009, celebrating their honeymoon and passing the bar exam with one trip. They started their careers in New York but eventually made their way back “home” to North Carolina (Durham was Vanessa’s first choice, and Charlotte was the compromise).
Randy is now a corporate tax partner at K&L Gates and Vanessa is internal counsel for US Bancorp’s Fixed Income and Capital Markets business.
Vanessa said, “In our free time, you can find us hiking with our two big, goofy dogs, or traveling the world.”
Amelia D. Hairston-Porter ’09 and Patricia L. Sindel ’09
Amelia and Tricia first noticed each other studying in Goodson Law Library every morning during fall semester of 1L year but both were too shy to say hello. One day, a mutual friend struck up a conversation between them.
“Once we finally got talking, we couldn’t stop,” Tricia says. “Our morning study session turned into an afternoon study session, which turned into an evening study session, and pretty soon we were inseparable.”
With their rigorous 1L course work, dating would have to wait until spring semester – and what a date it was. “During Spring Break we went on a PILF-sponsored trip to work as law clerks for a judge in Honolulu,” Tricia says. “One day after work, we bought a bottle of cheap wine from a corner shop and took a picnic to Waikiki Beach to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. That was our first real date,” Amelia said.
In 2010, after moving to Washington, D.C. to begin their law firm careers, and while out shopping, they walked into a jewelry store and walked out with engagement rings. The following Christmas, during a trip to visit Tricia's family home in Ohio –and “while big white snowflakes were gently falling outside”– Tricia proposed, and Amelia said “yes.” They married a year later at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C. “We rang in 2012 in style, at a time before [Obergefell v. Hodges], when D.C. was one of only a few places in the country where we legally could get married,” Amelia said.
Today, the couple lives outside D.C., in Kensington, Maryland, with their dog, Macallan, and cats, Sasha and Loki. Tricia works as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, and Amelia is a trial attorney at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. They enjoy traveling, spending time with family and friends, and recently took up kayaking and tennis.
What makes their marriage special: they don’t always agree, and that’s okay. Amelia said, “Often we see the world through different lenses, but we balance each other and are always willing to talk things out, no matter the issue.”
Tricia added, “They say never start a new relationship as a 1L, and it’s true our grades may have suffered that semester (sorry, Professors Coleman!). But we think we got something better in the end.”
Rob Harrington ’87 and Sharon Harrington ’89
Rob and Sharon met each other through a shared, close circle of friends at the Law School. Many of them came from Rob’s prior four years at Duke, where he’d graduated with a BA in History and Religion and was founding board chair for the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture. Sharon had graduated from the University of Delaware as a Political Science major.
The two started dating in the spring of Sharon’s first year at Duke Law and Rob’s third year. For their first date, they went to see a movie at the former South Square Mall. In the summer of 1988, while Sharon was working as a summer associate at a firm in Washington, D.C., Rob popped the question at her apartment. “I had a ring box FedEx’d in as a surprise but brought the ring with me — I thought that was very smart.”
Rob and Sharon tied the knot in August 1989, shortly after she graduated. They wed in Wilmington, Delaware, where Sharon's family lived at the time. That same year, they both took the D.C. bar exam and decided to start their lives together in that city.
Today, the couple calls Charlotte their home. Rob is a business litigator and Litigation Department co-chair at Robinson Bradshaw, and Sharon is chief of staff at Novant Health Foundations. Away from work, they enjoy spending time with family, including their delightful three-year-old granddaughter; exploring new restaurants; travel; watching sweet, corny movies – and staying connected to Duke. Rob is an active member of the Law School’s Board of Visitors, and Sharon served on the Law School Alumni Association Board.
Rob and Sharon are passionate about making their community “a better and more equitable place,” Rob said. They credit their long-lasting marriage to shared interests, common commitments, and a little bit of humor.
Andrew Ligon ’15 and Nicole (Blumenkehl) Ligon ’16
Andrew asked out Nicole three times before she finally agreed. She decided to give him a chance only after he had spent hours helping her look for the purse she misplaced during the Law School’s annual Halloween party at Tavern. “Given my propensity for losing items, Andrew’s patience and skill at finding things continues to be a real asset in our relationship,” she says.
Their first date was dinner at Sake Bomb and a show at DPAC in January 2014.Two years later, during her 3L year, he proposed in Duke Gardens. He had graduated the year earlier and took a train to visit her in Durham. Nicole had a feeling that a proposal was coming and made sure she was ready by getting her nails done. But when she picked him up from the station, he kept checking his pocket and suggested that, instead of going to the apartment to drop off his bags, they head to Duke Gardens. Being a “planner,” she had already picked out the dress that she wanted to wear for this anticipated proposal, which was not the dress she was wearing, so she went back home to change quickly while he waited in the car.
“Andrew proposed in front of the koi pond, as two of my very patient law school friends secretly waited in 90+ degree weather to photograph the delayed event,” Nicole says.
They married in August 2016 and then worked at law firms in New York, but they did not stay away from Durham for long, as Nicole accepted an opportunity to return to their alma mater as supervising attorney in the First Amendment Clinic. In addition to the clinic, Nicole teaches doctrinal classes in media law and entertainment law. Andrew splits his time between Durham and New York, and Andrew works as a senior associate at Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP with a practice focused on the procurement and implementation of public infrastructure and construction projects. And in the coming months, the pair will be embarking on a whole new adventure altogether – welcoming their baby boy, Caleb.
Eric O’Brien ’16 and Katie (Karges) O’Brien ’16
Out of sheer luck, Eric O’Brien and Katie Karges were both part of “the best small section during our first year (Section 2),” had the same legal writing professor, and lived across the parking lot from one another in Pinnacle Ridge.
Katie said, “From that moment on, and with the help of our shared love of movies, Rodeo Houston, Big Ten football, and college basketball, our relationship grew from being great friends to a loving couple.”
They were friends throughout law school, but they didn’t start dating until two years after they graduated, in April 2018. Their relationship deepened over time, and they were married this past August. Now, they are both lawyers at firms in D.C. – Eric at Covington & Burling and Katie at Williams & Connolly LLP.
Jillion (Stern) Weisberg ’97 and Michael Weisberg ’97
When Jillion and Michael first met – on the first day of orientation –they didn’t really hit it off, but they did have the same interests and many of the same friends. After spending some time together, they started dating in the spring of their first year.
“We found ourselves at the same party and started talking. That was 1995 and we have been together ever since,” she says.
They were married in 1998, and now they have two children, Alana, 17, and William, 15. They have lived in Durham, Los Angeles, and Northern California, but they currently reside in Los Angeles, where Michael is an art dealer and Jillion sells legal technology at Oracle.
When they were dating, Jillion says they loved to go to small bookstores and art-house movie theaters in Durham, and now, like to spend their time collecting art, hiking, and traveling.
Ryan Weiss ’16 and Alexis Reynolds ’16
When Alexis Reynolds transferred into Duke Law School, she was looking to get to know her classmates and make new friends. When Ryan Weiss walked into his Civil Rights Litigation class, he says he “saw a beautiful girl across the room and sat as close as I could to her. Spoiler alert: that girl was Alexis.” He says they hit it off immediately.
They worked on Duke Law Journal together, they competed together on the softball diamond (and, along with their team, brought home the 2015 Duke Law Softball Championship), and, of course, they logged hours studying and outlining for exams together.
They were “best friends” at first, but Ryan he felt something more, so he took a leap of faith and asked Alexis out on a date. Sparks flew over sushi, and for the rest of the summer, “we were inseparable.” They graduated in 2016, and Ryan went to clerk for federal judge in Tallahassee and Phoenix, while Alexis went to work at McGuireWoods in Charlotte.
Yet Ryan says that distance couldn’t keep them away, and Ryan made the 15-hour trip to see her each week. He proposed in May 2017 at the end of a half marathon in Yosemite National Park, “and the rest is history!” Ryan now works at Susman Godfrey LLP in Houston as a litigation associate, and Alexis moved to the McGuireWoods Houston office, where she is a healthcare associate.
If you're a Duke Law alumni couple who met at Duke Law and are interested in being featured in next year's Valentine's Day feature, please email Sean Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.