Valentine’s Day 2024: UC Law SF Celebrates Couples Who Found Love at Law School

There’s more to law school than learning doctrine and case law. It’s also the place where some students find their soul mates. In honor of Valentine’s Day, meet four couples who fell in love as students at UC Law San Francisco.

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Bob and Jennifer Hagle ’87 met on a tour of the law school library as first-year law students in 1984. They have been married for more than 35 years.

Bob and Jennifer Hagle ‘87

Bob Hagle was touring the law school library as a 1L student in 1984 when he first encountered his future wife, fellow first-year law student Jennifer. After starting up a conversation, the two discovered they had a mutual friend and became close friends over the next year. Then the sparks started flying.

“There was an initial physical attraction, but her intelligence, wicked sense of humor and fearlessness ‘closed the deal’ for me,” Bob said.

Jennifer said she was attracted to Bob’s quick wit, work ethic and smarts. “He was also very handsome and athletic (still is – he is still doing Ironman triathlons).”

The romance blossomed over their last two years in law school, and they got engaged in December 1987. They were married in September 1988 and have three children: Eric, 33, a lawyer; Jeff, 30, a clinical therapist, both in Southern California; and Courtney, 27, research director for a progressive media watchdog nonprofit in Washington DC.

Both Bob and Jennifer recently retired after long and successful legal careers. Bob retired as a partner at Rutan & Tucker LLP in 2022. Jennifer retired this past November after 36 years at Sidley Austin, where she started her career after law school.

They are both enjoying retirement now and like to stay active with skiing, swimming, hiking and working out. Bob continues to compete in triathlons, and Jennifer is in the process of getting certified to teach Pilates on the reformer, a Pilates exercise machine.

“After 35 years, we are still best friends and prefer hanging out with each other over anyone else,” Jennifer said.

Their advice for law students? Have confidence in your abilities and carve out some time for outside interests. Bob added, “And don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone during the library tour — you never know where it may lead.”

Judith Gallardo ’13 and Lance Kennix ’12 first saw each other at an indoor soccer game in the McAllister Tower. They got married more than 11 years ago.

Lance Kennix ’12 and Judith Gallardo ‘13

In 2010, Judith was a 1L student playing indoor soccer in the McAllister Tower gym when she first saw Lance. Then a 2L student, Lance was decked out in a full suit and tie. He had just gotten back from on-campus interviews for potential summer jobs when he came to see his roommate and friends play soccer.

“He was handsome and seemed like a nice guy,” Judith said of Lance.

Lance said he was awestruck by Judith’s athletic prowess and tenacity.

They later bumped into each other at a party on the tenth floor of the Tower. Judith said Lance impressed her with his sense of humor and views on social justice. They became fast friends and started studying together around campus and in nearby coffee shops.

“Spending time with him only confirmed he was in fact nice, intelligent, witty, principled, kind, patient, thoughtful, and loved to help others,” Judith said.

Lance said he was drawn to Judith’s sense of humor and fun-loving nature. “She was also very compassionate,” he said. “Occasionally we would talk about criminal justice, and she caused me to reexamine some of my views.”

It wasn’t long before they fell head over heels for each other. Lance had just graduated and Judith was in her 3L year when they tied the knot at San Francisco City Hall on Dec. 31, 2012. They later held a ceremony with family and friends in November 2013.

They now live in Southern California and have two children: a nine-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. Judith works as a deputy city attorney for the City of Riverside focusing on civil litigation and appeals. Lance has been working as an independent attorney doing depositions and law and motion work for various clients.

Judith maintains an athletic lifestyle running marathons and coaching soccer. Lance said he’s still impressed by his wife’s athleticism, and Judith said her husband still looks good in a suit.

Judith encouraged law students to practice self-love and remember that nobody’s perfect. “It’s the practice of law, not the perfection of law,” she said. “Learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.”

Lance offered some relationship advice for future attorneys: “Winning arguments at work is great. At home, not so great. Even when you win, you lose. Secure peace, not victories.”

Darren Singh ’23 and Lisa Straehle ’23 connected virtually over their shared interest in running before starting law school in 2020. They eloped in Virginia this past November.

Darren Singh ’23 and Lisa Straehle ‘23

It was the pandemic summer of 2020 when Darren and Lisa met in an online chat group for accepted UC Law SF students. Lisa was living in Southern California while Darren was stationed as an army officer in Missouri. They had a common interest: running, and talked about their shared goals to run a marathon and join the law school’s running club. Before long, they were conversing daily in text messages, phone calls and video chats.

“Every day I would find little ways or reasons to ping her again — and we had some great, meaningful conversations,” Darren said.

“We talked every day since then, and I have always been drawn to his kind-hearted nature and zest for life,” Lisa added.

When Lisa was offered a full scholarship to a different law school, Darren designed a digital slideshow outlining the reasons why UC Law SF was a better choice, including the fact that he’d be there. His slideshow worked. She chose to stay at UC Law SF.

On his drive from Missouri to San Francisco, Darren took the southern route so he could finally meet Lisa in person. He showed up in her driveway with a bouquet of flowers, and they spent their first date in Joshua Tree National Park.

The pair dated through law school and got engaged around the time they graduated in May of 2023. They eloped this past November in Virginia, where Darren was training to become a JAG officer.

Darren remains a U.S. Army captain now serving as a National Security Law Attorney for the U.S. Army JAG Corps. Lisa is working as a first-year litigation associate at Fenwick & West LLP in Seattle.

Darren advises law students, “Don’t forget to temper your confidence and smarts with plenty of humility, empathy, and vulnerability. In my experience, that’s been the path to being surrounded by plenty of amazing people in my life: including my beautiful, amazing wife.”

After connecting through the student organization OUTlaw, Caitlin Eliason ’23 and Alexis Ballinger ’23 fell in love and got married in July last year at the same bar where they shared their first kiss.

Alexis Ballinger ’23 and Caitlin Eliason ‘23

When Alexis transferred to UC Law SF in her 2L year, she was invited to attend an event put on by OUTlaw, UC Law SF’s LGBTQ+ student organization. Caitlin, then co-president of OUTlaw, had invited her.

“When I met her in person, I felt immediately drawn to her,” Caitlin said of Alexis.

The two grew closer over the summer when they were paired together in a negotiations class. At the start of their 3L year, both found themselves single. Caitlin said she had no clue Alexis liked her as more than a friend until a night out at the Madrone Art Bar when Alexis kissed her on the dance floor. They’ve been inseparable ever since.

“Since we started dating, it has felt so meant to be,” Caitlin said. “I can’t believe I ever lived my life without her.”

Like any good lawyer, Alexis laid out the evidence proving how Caitlin has been a thoughtful, loyal and loving partner. During bar prep, she said Caitlin sacrificed her preferred studying method on a two-screen desktop to spend each day with her, studying on a laptop instead. When Alexis competed in a strength competition, Caitlin designed and bought “Team Alexis” t-shirts for their friends to wear as they cheered her on from the sidelines.

“She will be your number-one fan and will support her people in any way she can,” Alexis said.

Caitlin proposed to Alexis at Dolores Park during Pride Week this past June. The two got married on July 28 in the same bar where they shared their first kiss. Their wedding occurred the same day they finished taking the bar exam, later finding out they both passed.

Caitlin now works as an associate attorney at Burke, Williams & Sorensen in San Francisco, where she primarily practices land-use law. Alexis is working with the Oakland City Attorney’s Office thanks to a grant from UC Law SF’s Bridge Fellowship Program.

Their advice for law students? There’s more to life than studying law, earning a degree, and passing the bar. Try to relax and enjoy life during law school. Take time to make friends, be with others, and attend campus events.

“Don’t wait for after the bar to live your lives; it’s happening right now,” Caitlin said. “Who knows, you could meet the love of your life at the next event!”