Terry Diamond, '63: An Investment Career Grounded in Law School Learning

Appeared in Record issue: 
Fall 2010

Terry Diamond, '63, came to the Law School with a keen interest in business, and his interest was more than satisfied by great professors and great opportunities. "I'm sure I took every course that Walter Blum taught," he recalls, "and most of Stanley Kaplan's courses, too. Then, as today, the Law School's faculty was exceptionally skilled at blending theory and practice, and at challenging students to find the best in themselves. All that, plus the opportunity to take business and economics courses throughout the University, gave me the grounding to do what I really wanted to do in my life."

Not long after graduation, Diamond landed a job with Lehman Brothers, and his subsequent career in investment management ultimately led him to cofound Talon Asset Management in 1983. Originally formed as a brokerage firm, Chicago-based Talon grew into a company that now manages more than a billion dollars divided among hedge funds, individually managed accounts, private equity, and venture capital. As of March 31 of this year, $10,000 invested with Talon ten years earlier would be worth considerably more than twice as much as the same amount invested in the Russell 3000 index.

"We don't try to predict the market," Diamond says, "but we act on the substantive indicators that we see." Thus, Talon put the brakes on investing in 1998 and 1999 when Diamond and his team saw signs that the tech-stock bubble was near to bursting, and they did so again in August of 2007 as they noticed that access to credit was tightening. Both moves proved timely, and in this regard, too, Diamond says his experience at the Law School made a big difference: "There's no question that the Law School taught me how to think, and particularly how to identify the critical variables in a situation. In the investment business we're inundated with data-our best decisions happen when we're able to discern what's really important and then act on it."

Diamond attributes Talon's success to personnel who are not just very smart, but who also work together very well as a team. Although he is still actively involved in investment decisions, he also sees himself as a mentor to Talon's next-generation leadership. "That's something I really enjoy-passing on knowledge and insights that I've gained over the years to younger people," he says.

He maintains his own vitality in part by a vigorous physical regimen. For many years, he and his wife Marilyn climbed mountains together around the world, including Himalayan peaks, Mount Kilimanjaro, and volcanic calderas inMexico. Today they ski in winter and hike and bicycle in summer, often in mountainous areas around Jackson Hole,Wyoming.

To prepare for their mountain ascents, they were known to run up the steps of their high-rise apartment building bearing backpacks filled with rocks. "Our neighbors thought we were nuts," Diamond says, "but we found then, as we still do today, that staying fit keeps us mentally refreshed for our more 'normal' activities." Among other things, Diamond is a member of the Chairman's Circle of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and he serves on the steering Committee of CARA, an organization dedicated to training and facilitating employment for the homeless. Marilyn Diamond co-chairs the Chicago/Casablanca Sister Cities International Program, is on the board of the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy, and serves on the executive board of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, among other civic contributions. They are also kept happily busy by six grandchildren.

Mr. Diamond also makes time to give back to the Law School, as a former member of the Visiting Committee, a regular reunion volunteer and chair, and a consistent, generous donor. "So much of what I am blessed to enjoy today traces back to my time at the University of Chicago Law School," he observes. "My education there made it possible for me to do something I really like doing, and to do it with a reasonable level of success. Of course I'm going to show my appreciation for all that, in whatever ways I can."