Lawyers in Love 2020

Texas Law didn’t just give these couples a world-class legal education- it gave them their families! Happy Valentine’s Day from Texas Law and from these lawyers in love! Did you meet your significant other at the Law School? Send your story to!

Ann Gill Howard & John Howard, Class of 1988

We met the first day of UT Law in August 1985, where we were in the same TQ, led by Don Lawless. Ann was working on a joint degree with the Law School and the LBJ School, where Barbara Jordan would serve as her mentor. We went on our first date in September, attending the Broadway musical Sugar Babies at Bass Concert Hall and dining at Hyde Park Bar & Grill. From their Section, five couples married – and we believe most are still married. Ann helped lead the Law School’s outreach efforts through the new Student Recruitment & Outreach Committee (SROC), and John helped. Ann baked cookies to keep John fueled in serving as the Law Review’s administrative editor. We both worked in Washington, D.C., the summer after our second year, John for Bracewell and Ann for Joe Biden at the Senate Judiciary Committee. We married at Ann’s home church in Houston, Faith Lutheran, and were joined by many law school classmates, including Ted Schweinfurth and Russ Sullivan as groomsmen and Sherie Potts Beckman as a bride’s maid. The date was April 1, 1989 – and Ann fainted at the altar. With that auspicious start, we have been married for 30 years and have lived in D.C. (twice) and Austin. We have three wonderful grown children, Patricia, Susan, and John III. John now leads public policy for Dell Technologies, and Ann is running for Travis County Commissioner in the Democratic primary on March 3.

Shifali Kohli & Vinay Kohli , Class of 2009

Vinay and Shifali met over Mexican Martinis at Trudy’s the night before 1L orientation.  From that point, Vinay kept coming up with excuses to see Shifali, including repeatedly borrowing and then returning her Black’s Law Dictionary (even though it would have been easier to just use the copies at the library).

It worked.

Since graduating, they’ve made Los Angeles their home, celebrated ten wedding anniversaries, and welcomed into the world two children that they adore (and who make the practice of law seem like the easy part of life).  The old Black’s Law Dictionary still sits on the shelf in the living room.

Kaycee Crisp ’08 & Brandon Crisp ’07

We met during Kaycee’s 1L year when Brandon was one of her section’s Mentors (now called Dean’s Fellows) but did not start dating until Kaycee was also selected to be a Mentor her 2L year.  Whether it was trying to outperform each other in the classes we took together or trying to outdo each other in Ex Parte antics, we remember our relationship involving a lot of reading, studying, pranks, and laughter.  We always look back on our time in law school as happy memories, and now when we bring our three kiddos back to campus with us, it is so much fun to show them where it all began.

Desiree Durst & Ryan Botkin, Class of 1995

Ryan and I did not technically start dating in law school. We both lived on Hampton, right across the street from the law school for a while our second year, and he claims he knew who I was, but I am not sure I knew him. We actually “met” the night of law school graduation. The Sunflower Ceremony was held in Bass Concert Hall and all the graduates were seated alphabetically on the stage. His roommate Billy Phenix was seated next to my friend Becky Pestana. It was a long ceremony, and Billy managed to invite Becky to a graduation party at their house on 7th Street that night. Becky invited me to come with her and some other friends to the party.

Ryan and I started talking  when he chivalrously offered to pour me a beer. He eventually got my number which he wrote down on a piece of notebook tacked to the wall – it was a real bachelor pad. After that, we both started bar review in Austin and started dating. Lots of time was spent on the lake. We were pretty distracted and everyone predicted we would fail. Luckily we managed not to.

We survived long distance dating and first jobs and got married in 1998. We now live in Austin and  have two lovely kids, Robert (16) and Daisy (13). Ryan practices commercial litigation, and I work at the United States District Court. We would never have the wonderful life we have now if not for UT Law, and if not for alphabetical seating. Thanks Billy and Becky!

Siobhan Fitzpatrick Kratovil & Chris Kratovil, Class of 2000

Siobhan- Same first-year section, we sat across from each other in Criminal Law. His handsome face drove me to distraction. I was the villain in the professor’s hypotheticals, and he was the drunken interloper thanks to the Notre Dame shirts he always wore. It took me until the Spring semester to work up the nerve to talk to him. Good friends in school, we didn’t start dating until after graduation. 16 years of marriage and 4 kids later, I’m so thankful for Texas Law bringing us together.

Chris – I met Siobhan Fitzpatrick in August of 1997 during our first year at UT Law.  We were both in Section 2.  I noticed Siobhan right away, both because I found her strikingly beautiful and because our Criminal Law professor, Professor Steve Goode, used her as the villain in all of the hypotheticals to illustrate different crimes.  In Professor Goode’s class, the lovely and petite Ms. Fitzpatrick was always alleged to be committing the most heinous of crimes and misdeeds against her neighbor on the seating chart, the intimidating-looking Mr. Kevin Franta.

Having done my undergraduate work at Irish American Central (a/k/a Notre Dame), I was one of the only students in our section who could pronounce Siobhan’s elegant Gaelic name from day #1 of law school, and I think she appreciated that. We became fast friends and sometimes studied together. Siobhan generated truly outstanding outlines, and even back then I was in training to be a law firm partner, because I’d merely edit and polish the outlines she created.

For better or worse, there was not any romance between me and Siobhan during law school.  Our timing was just bad, as we both had other relationships and various complications that prevented us from becoming a couple while at UT Law I always had a sense of regret about that, but I did very much value my friendship with Siobhan and aimed to sustain it after law school.

After graduation, I moved to Houston to clerk for Judge Edith H. Jones on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (and I note Judge Jones and her husband, Woody Jones, are themselves a UT Law couple), while Siobhan moved to Dallas to join the corporate group of the Dallas office of the firm that was then Locke, Liddell & Sapp (now Locke, Lord & Bissell).  Thanks in part to encouragement from our UT Law classmates in Houston, such as Soumit Roy and Basil Umari, I made a point to call Siobhan every few weeks (this was before texting, social media, and Skype or FaceTime, so actual voice telephone calls were necessary). Despite having developed a real affection for Houston and having excellent job prospects there, at the conclusion of my clerkship for Judge Jones I decided to move back to Dallas. While I am from Dallas, a big albeit unstated part of my motivation for moving was Siobhan’s presence there.

It took a few months, but after years of strong friendship Siobhan and I finally became romantically involved.  We were married March 13, 2004.  Sixteen years of marriage later, we have four daughters and a happy suburban life together. We both still practice law. I have an appellate and commercial litigation practice and serve as the managing partner of Dykema’s 50-lawyer Dallas office. Siobhan has a popular blog,, that covers legal issues impacting families with children (we can’t call it “family law” because the divorce lawyers seized control of that term long ago), and also maintains a solo practice that caters to individuals and small businesses.

We are profoundly grateful to UT Law not only for the world-class legal education we received there, but also for bringing us together. Hook ‘Em!

Lora Kenyon & Carl Kenyon, Class of 2010

Carl and Lora met at a party through a mutual friend and fellow law student a few days before starting their 1L year. They had a few classes together and remained friends through law school but did not start dating until they reconnected in Houston 2 years after graduating. They celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary and welcomed their baby boy in December 2019!

Vincent Harding & Meagan Harding ‘12

Meagan and I met the first day of law school orientation. We attended the Diversity weekend and decided to go to church service together the next day with another law school classmate who we are now really good friends with. She still claims she is the ultimate match maker. As we talked more while studying in the library, we discovered we shared a passion for helping the least of these and speaking up for those that could not speak for themselves because of the systems we live in. I asked Meagan out on a date. She accepted and the rest is history. We were engaged about a year later and got married the week before our final law school semester. We are thrilled to report that we welcomed our first child this January! Here is a photo from our third date at the Oasis.

Ann Lents & David Heaney, Class of 1974

We met in the same 1st year section and were married just two years later.  We survived my editing his Law Review note (barely) and are still going 46 years later.

Laura Kaplan & Jeff Kaplan, Class of 1992

Jeff and I were in the same TQ and met the day before school started in our TQ meeting. (Our TQ was Kevin Feeney who is a dear friend of ours today!) Jeff and I sat next to each other in every class but one our first year and shared a mailbox because of our last names (Kaplan and Kauachi). His friends told him it would be a mistake to date me, because if it didn’t work out, we would be stuck next to each other the entire year. It all worked out! We got engaged the day before our Sunflower Ceremony (with the promise that I would not let wedding planning get in the way of studying for the Bar exam,) and now we are about to celebrate our 27th anniversary in March!

Anne Culotta & Ken Culotta, Class of 1985

Ken and I were in the same section of the Class of 1985. We did not date each other until the last semester of our senior year. (Although Ken had made it clear that he wasn’t averse to the idea.) I thought he was one of those guys who assumes that women are swooning over him. The fact that the women were swooning over him was enough to make me want to ignore him. Which I did. I didn’t get to know him until we studied together for an International Tax final.

I had asked Ken to loan me his notes for the few days that I wasn’t in class. He was one of the few people who seemed to be on top of the material. Ken declined to offer up his notes, but invited me to come over to his place and study for the exam. When he heard  that I was driving back to Florida for the holidays, he asked if I would be so kind as to drop him off in Beaumont, given that it was on the way. I reluctantly agreed. At the time I had no idea that he had arranged for his own car to be driven back to Beaumont so that he could “need” a ride!  It turned out that I liked him more than I thought I would.

We were engaged by February!

Meghan Bakshi Hoffman & Andrew Hoffman II, Class of 2008

Andrew Hoffman and Meghan Bakshi Hoffman met at a back-to-school event during their 2L year.  By the time of their Sunflower Ceremony in 2008, they were dating seriously and planning the next phase of their joint adventure.  They married in 2011–surrounded by their very best friends from UT Law–and now reside in Orange County, California.  Andrew is a partner at DLA Piper LLP and Meghan is a senior in-house lawyer for a major automobile manufacturer.  They have been blessed with three future Supreme Court justices, Andrew III (age 5), Caroline (age 3), and Beatrice (age 5 months.)

Katy Civins & Jeff Civins, Class of 1975

Alas, Jeff and I didn’t meet in law school.  We were already married when we started law school in the fall of 1972.  We celebrated our first anniversary at Green Pastures right after we arrived in Austin.  We had driven with all our belongings and a dog from New York City that summer to our now beloved Austin, TX.  Seems like only yesterday.

Rémi Ratliff & Shannon Ratliff, Class of 1995

Rémi and Shannon met on the first day of law school at the orientation BBQ event. They have been happily married for 23 and a half years!

Dawn Budner & Craig Budner, Class of 1990

Dawn and Craig met in 1987 as classmates in the same TQ in Section 3 of the 1990 UT Law class. Dawn was the quiet intellectual. Craig was a gunner who wore his Dartmouth sweatshirt to Charles Alan Wright’s constitutional law class for discussion of Dartmouth College v. Woodward.  Later, Craig made a more favorable impression when they shared an office as Articles Editors of the Texas Law Review. After law school, Dawn and Craig became a couple, got married and had three kids (Will (25), Ben (21) and Lily (16)). April 2020 marks their 28th anniversary!

Lorraine Sarles ’09 & Joseph Sarles ’07

Another alumni, Matt Stammel, introduced us. Matt was handling some litigation for the company I worked for at the time. I was starting Texas Law in the fall, so Matt set up a lunch for me to pick his summer associates’ brains about all things law school, and Joseph was one of those associates. Subsequent dates at George’s Cafe and Trudy’s followed, and the rest is history.

Category: Alumni News