Among the late night studying, brief writing and competition for clerkships and internships, it’s hard to imagine that love can thrive at law school. But for some lucky couples, law school provided the spark that brought them together. In honor of Valentine's Day, couples who met and got together at Rutgers Law School shared their love stories.
Sami Jameel and Bisma Muhammed RLAW '17
On the first day of MSP orientation at Rutgers Law School in Newark, Sami Jameel and Bisma Muhammed were introduced by a mutual friend. Three years after they met, they got married in 2017.
Jameel made the first move when he bought her a box of cookies and added his homemade card for her birthday, a month after school started, “That was how I got her attention, and the rest was history.”
Jameel is an associate at Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis specializing in commercial and criminal litigation. Muhammed is a life sciences attorney at Porzio Bromberg and Newman.
During law school, Muhammed participated in the Community and Transactional Lawyering Clinic and said it helped dating someone who understood the demands of law school, “We studied together often and talked about classes, but we also knew how to withdraw into our own spaces to study when we needed to, and each of us understood the need to do so.”
Jameel agreed, “We had to make time for each other but also make sure we were not neglecting our studies. In that way, dating someone who was going through the same experience was beneficial for our relationship. We both understood the demands of law school so if one of us had a prior commitment, we gave each other space to fulfill that and supported each other in whatever way we could.”
He encouraged law students to be open to different opportunities that may come along. Jameel said, “You may have come in with a certain idea of what kind of law you wanted to practice, and that might change. Be open-minded and take different kinds of classes, and you'll likely find an area of the law that you are interested in.”
Muhammed also offered this practical advice for couples dating in law school, ”It's important to support each other's goals and interests, and bringing food to study sessions goes a long way!”
Bob Turrin and Linda Wharton, RLAW '81
They met when they bumped into each other in the campus book store in Camden buying their law books in August 1978 and a month later, sat behind each other in torts class. Bob Turrin and Linda Wharton began dating the first month of law school and got married in August 1981 at the Kirkpatrick Chapel at Rutgers in New Brunswick, a couple of weeks after they took their bar exams.
"Going through law school with Bob was a life saver for me," said Wharton. "We understood exactly what the other was going through and it was much more fun to do it together." Turrin said, "I didn't find law school to be a fun experience but Linda was there and she inspired me to press on."
Wharton is a professor at Stockton University where she teaches Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties and Sex Discrimination, and works as the student pre-law advisor. Turrin is an attorney for Chubb and will celebrate his 35th year there this year.
Their advice to other law school students is two-fold, maintain a strong support network, but also realize that attention may be focused on law school course work over relationships. "Don't go it alone. Law school is extremely challenging. The support of others is essential," said Wharton. Turrin added, "Law school can be all-consuming and if you are doing it correctly, it should cause you to make many sacrifices in your personal life. Never forget that this is a tough professional education, but it's only three years."
Allison Kaplan and Michael Mann, RLAW '19
Sparks flew in LAWRS class for Allison Kaplan and Michael Mann during their first year at Rutgers Law in Newark. "I started to talk to Mike in the atrium sometimes and then we got closer in the spring of 1L when we were practiing for oral argument for LAWRS," said Kaplan.
The couple began dating in May 2017. Both clerked after graduating. Kaplan now works at the Department of Children and Families section of the Attorney General's Office and Mann is an associate at Heymann and Fletcher practicing family law.
The couple's wedding was postponed due to the pandemic, but has been rescheduled for June 13.
"When we were both in law school we had moments during the day where we got to see each other and could eat lunch together," recalled Mann. "But we also both understood the demands of law school and didn't take it personally if we had to devote a lot of time to studying."
They both said Rutgers Law School was where they met their closest friends and appreciated the support from faculty and staff. Kaplan said, "Rutgers Law is special because everyone there just wants to help you succeed."
She said it is important for couples in law school to take time for themselves, "Make sure that you find time just to be together without the books. Mann added, "Remember that everyone handles pressure and stress differently and to not let it affect your relationship because law school is only temporary, and the relationship is hopefully forever."