PUBLISHED:February 11, 2021

Love and the law: For faculty couples, it's all in a day's work


Duke Law has more than a dozen married couples on the faculty. In honor of Valentine's Day, two of them share their stories.

Like so many good love stories, Tim and Daisy Lovelace’s began in friendship. They were part of the same clubs in college and hung out with many of the same friends, and their bond grew over time. Eventually, that friendship led to something more.  

Tim and Daisy Lovelace
Tim and Daisy Lovelace

“We thought it might make our group dynamic weird if we dated, so we didn’t tell anyone at first,” Daisy says. “We actually drove out of town for our first dinner date because we didn’t want to run into any of our friends.” 

They continued dating “in secret” for three months, but their friends knew all along and didn’t let on until years later. “Apparently, we weren’t very good at hiding it!” Tim says.  

After three years of dating, the two “realized that we wanted to be each other’s lifelong partner,” Tim says, and then they got married. Now, they are partnering in many ways: They are parents to a daughter, Lillian – “who is 4-and-a-half years old. That half is very important to her,” Daisy says – and they work together at Duke Law School. Tim is the John Hope Franklin Research Scholar and professor of law, and Daisy is a senior lecturing fellow with a primary appointment in the Fuqua School of Business.  

The Lovelaces are just one of more than a dozen married couples teaching at Duke Law. Some came to the Law School after teaching together at other schools or practicing at law firms, and some are navigating working together for the first time. Some get to work together on teaching or research projects, while others simply enjoy the opportunity to offer support in a more immediate way.  

Before working together at Duke Law, the Lovelaces went to graduate school together at the University of Virginia, and while in school they worked in separate departments. Daisy worked in the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Equity, and Tim worked for the Center for the Study of Race and Law. 

“Our schedules were incredibly busy, but the sacrifices we made in the early years laid a strong foundation for our future careers,” Tim says. When they were completing their doctoral programs together, “it was truly wonderful to have a spouse who understood the demands, joys, and stresses of graduate school life.”  

The couple is new to Duke Law this academic year. Daisy says they chose Duke after fielding offers from several other universities. They visited Duke Law in the spring semester of 2019 and thought Durham was a place they would be happy to call home.   

“We were seeking to find a place where we both could not only thrive as scholars, but also a place that was the right fit for families,” she says. “We loved our visit at Duke."

Tim was the John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History, and Daisy was a visiting scholar at Fuqua and visiting fellow at the Law School.

"We had amazing colleagues and very engaged students, and in a short time had found real community outside of campus," Daisy says.

Duke’s location also made it appealing, since Daisy grew up in South Carolina and Tim grew up in Virginia, so they can easily visit both of their families. 

Tim says that this is the first time they are teaching in the same school, and for the first time, they have the opportunity to meet for lunch or stop by each other’s offices for feedback or support. They are considering co-teaching a course that considers the law and business of diversity.

“We run things by each other all the time,” he says. “Since we’re in different fields, it’s helpful to get the perspective from someone you trust who also has a more distant view of your work. We proofread each other’s work and talk through ideas all the time.”   
Doriane and Jim Coleman
Doriane and Jim Coleman

Jim and Doriane Coleman started working together at the Law School after being recruited by Dean Pam Gann in 1996. They met while working at Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering in Washington, D.C: Jim was handling litigation, including some natural gas regulatory work, and was taking on civil rights and death penalty cases pro bono. Doriane also handled general litigation, including work on the contamination of the Tucson aquifer. They worked together briefly on a matter involving the development of USA Track & Field’s first anti-doping program. 

At the Law School, they are both members of the faculty, but their work does not overlap often.  

“We do occasionally collaborate on writing projects of mutual interest,” Jim says. Collaborative works have included “Getting Juvenile Life without Parole ‘Right’ after Miller v. Alabama” in the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy and “The Problem of Doping” in the Duke Law Journal

They also had a chance to teach together twice when the Law School offered a two-course summer start for JD/LLM students. Jim taught Criminal Law and Doriane taught Torts. 

“Our students had t-shirts made up with ‘Camp Coleman’ on the front and ‘Get to the Murder’ on the back,” Jim says. “It was a reference to Doriane’s practice of putting students on call through a complete rendition of the case facts and my practice of … well, getting straight to the homicide.”  

Both say that working together has been fulfilling, both inside and outside the law school. They are also parents to three children – Jacqueline from Jim’s first marriage and Alexander and Nicolas from their marriage. 

“We’re both super busy and so don’t get to see each other much during the day, but we have common points of reference in our teaching, our students, and our commitments to the Duke community in general,” Doriane says. “Of course, this past year because of COVID, we’re working a lot from home and so definitely engaging more throughout the day.” 

They also have their different styles, which can sometimes be challenging. 

“Jim is a classic litigator who works on deadline, all-nighters included if necessary – either exciting or stressful depending on your POV,” Doriane says. “I map out an evenly paced schedule and have never pulled an all-nighter in my life – either boring or sane, again depending on your POV. Jim prefers briefs to law review articles, and I’m the opposite. In the end, though, our styles are complementary and the project gets done.”