Law school is a time of discovery—and for some, a time to discover their soulmate. This past Valentine’s Day, we asked four alumni couples to share their UB Law love story. No surprise: The memories still run strong.
Sometimes it takes an impartial observer to see a life history in the making. For Susan and Rich, one astute observer was Professor Marjorie Girth. “She thought we were an item before we were,” Rich recounts.
They became acquainted during the year before law school, in Buffalo City Hall where Susan was interning as a legislative assistant to the Common Council. Then Council Member Bill Hoyt, for whom Rich was working, introduced them in his City Hall office. Both decided, quite independently, to pursue a law degree at UB Law.
At first they were separated by their surnames, the students at that time being organized alphabetically. “There were not many women in the law school when we were there,” Susan says. “Because I had met Rich previously, his face stood out in a sea of male faces. I thought he was incredibly knowledgeable and smart. Rich did not say much, but when he spoke, it was something worth listening to.”
Eventually they found themselves in four courses together, and in a study group for Professor Ken Joyce’s tax course, and they became friends. Joyce once said of them, “Rich is one of the most cerebral people I know and Susan is one of the most vibrant. You wouldn’t think that it would work, but it does.” They married in 1980.
Rich, who has taught courses at the law school, is director of special intergovernmental projects for the New York State Department of Labor. Susan has had a wide-ranging career, primarily in public service at the city, county, state, and federal levels. She is now retired from practice, but continues to mentor UB Law students and recent graduates. They keep in close contact with their eight godchildren.
When people ask the former Ellen Shanahan about her law school experience, she says it simply: “I met my favorite person there.” That would be Scott Becker, part of her UB Law cohort in Section 2.
That section was overseen by beloved faculty members Alan Freeman and Betty Mensch. The married professors would have students over to their home on occasion. It was at just such a gathering, a Halloween party, that Ellen and Scott met. They hung out as part of a group of friends, playing darts at Molly’s on Main Street, and then started dating in the middle of their second year. By the end of law school they were engaged, and that summer they studied for the bar exam together. “It was a really good boot camp for marriage,” Ellen says. “You have to keep an even temperament, get your work done and still have a little fun.” She recalls that the swearing-in ceremony when they were both admitted to practice was actually held on Valentine’s Day in 1994 so they had a lot to celebrate that day.
Ellen works as special counsel with Hamberger & Weiss LLP; Scott, a past president of the UB Law Alumni Association and long-time board member, is a partner at Kavinoky Cook LLP. They are raising four daughters in the city of Buffalo: Madeline (now at UB School of Law), Elizabeth, Grace and Rose. Both enjoy serving on non-profit boards and the unmatched collegiality of Buffalo law practice, frequently getting together with former classmates.
It wasn’t until the end of their 2L year that Anna and Anastasia met. Final exams were looming, and Anastasia’s friend and classmate Nadeen Buzzelli called and asked her to come over and study with her and Anna. “I really didn’t want to,” Anastasia says. “I had to change out of my sweatpants.” But it was worth the trouble: Anna and Anastasia quickly became friends, then started dating in the fall of their 3L year. They took a few classes together—a trial technique course and one on literature and the law—and did a lot of extracurricular work, including competing with the Frederick Douglass Moot Court team and serving as co-presidents of the student group, Women of SUNY Buffalo Law School.
They did their bar prep together. “We had established rules,” Anna says. “We could ask each other substantive legal questions only.” Other than that, each of them remained glue to their respective laptop, with Anastasia playing Criminal Minds reruns in the background.
They married in 2018, and both practice in the area of litigation, Anna with Harter Secrest & Emery LLP and Anastasia with Hurwitz & Fine P.C. They have a 2-year-old daughter, Josie, and Anna is pregnant with their second child, a boy due in May.
Rachael and Delroy met before either of them ever cracked a casebook—on the first day of law school orientation, when they ended up in the same small group doing a get-to-know-you photo scavenger hunt around campus. They became part of a solid group of friends and study buddies, hanging out in the first-floor student lounge, then started dating in their second year at UB Law. (They have different stories about who asked whom out first.) They dated for the rest of law school and on into practice, and he proposed in December 2017. They were married the following August and soon bought a house—a trifecta of engagement, marriage and real estate in one crazy year.
You’d think two lawyers might make for a relationship full of persuasive debate, but Rachael says, “It’s nice to have somebody to bounce ideas off. We’re evenly matched, and we complement each other; his strengths are my weaknesses.”
Delroy is an associate court attorney for the Eighth Judicial District, where he supervises the Court’s Help Center. Rachael practices insurance defense with Liberty Mutual. They have a son, Myles Vincenzo Pinnock, born April 16 of last year. “He’s our little MVP,” Rachael says.