From the Classroom to the Courtroom: Cohorts at Chicago Firms Find Synergy, Support among Classmate Colleagues

Walking into Professor Adam Samaha’s Civil Procedure class on his very first day at the Law School, Chris Hagale, ’10, was a bit overwhelmed, very excited, and completely ready to embrace a new experience.

“I quickly realized that the Law School was nothing like college,” Hagale said. Almost immediately, Hagale and his classmates began bouncing ideas off of one another; they relished deep and nuanced discussions on just about any topic: law, sports, politics.

Now, though Hagale barely remembers what he wrote in his Law School admissions essay, he thinks often of the friendships and connections he made in law school—something that is all the more pronounced because he works alongside five classmates as a partner at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP.

“I love my job. Part of the reason is because of the interesting work I get to do, but just as important is the fact that I am able to work with my good friends from the Law School,” Hagale said.

Five associates from the Class of 2010, and one from the Class of 2009, were made partner at Bartlit Beck on January 1—creating a synergy that is uniquely UChicago.

“Working with my classmates has been a built-in support structure from the minute I arrived at the firm,” said Bartlit Beck partner Kate Roin, ’10. “My classmates are a group of friends who will pick up the phone anytime I call with a question and sit down with me to walk through issues. Just like we did at the Law School.”

Added Bartlit Beck partner Reid M. Bolton, ’10: “When I run into other UChicago alumni, I feel a connection based on our shared experiences, no matter whether you were at a Wine Mess in 1980 or 2010.”

Skip Herman, Managing Partner at Bartlit Beck, said, “We could not be prouder of this tremendous partnership class. Through the years, we have hired Chicago graduates because of what they have in common—an exceptionally rigorous education in which ideas are challenged. In our work as trial lawyers, such a willingness to question and to probe for the best argument is essential. This class is remarkable not just because they exemplify what is great about Chicago, but because of how their diverse backgrounds and interests add to the fabric of our law firm.”

Kirkland & Ellis LLP, which has more Law School alumni than any other firm, also had a partner cohort of classmates from the Class of 1988. Brian D. Sieve, Stephen L. Ritchie, and now retired Stuart Mills started as new associates. Jonathan Bunge—now a partner at Quinn Emanuel—Marc Kieselstein, and Bill Levy joined later.

A large cohort of UChicago alumni at one firm isn’t surprising, but one from the same class is rare. And when alumni work together on a daily basis, good things happen.

“Because of the camaraderie among Law School classmates, working together provides an opportunity to work as a more seamless unit in delivering services to our clients,” Levy said.

Working together has given these groups a phenomenal support network, enabling them to grow professionally and create lifelong friendships.

“Other than my family, I have spent more time with these classmates than anyone else—nine years and counting,” Bolton said.

Added Ritchie: “I made many great friends at the Law School. Working with a number of them has been a great pleasure as we have been able to continue and deepen the friendships we made at the Law School.”

Having gone from debating in the Green Lounge to refining their legal practice together, the line between friend and colleague was blurred years ago.

“I work with the people who were my closest friends at the Law School and whom I greatly admired during my time in school with them,” Spencer said. “They were thoughtful, smart, and fun students, and they continue to bring this same energy to their work as lawyers. We learned a lot together during law school, both from each other and from our excellent professors.”

Entire career paths have been impacted because of friendships formed at the Law School. “I have made two lateral moves in my career. Both were prompted by—and would not have happened without—my friends from the Class of 1988,” Kieselstein said. “So I can truthfully say that there is zero chance I would have had what success I’ve had if not for UChicago and if not for some of the incredible people and lasting relationships UChicago fostered.”

Because of their unique professional experience, these cohorts have a deepened appreciation for the Law School.

“The support I have received from my Law School classmates has truly been invaluable to my career,” Tannenbaum said. “Having such a strong shared bond coming from the Law School, we all wanted nothing more than to see each other succeed. Time and time again, I have been able to turn to my classmates for trusted advice on issues big and small at work. It is difficult for me to imagine building a career in such a challenging field without the help of my classmates.”

Added Whiting: “The Law School provided a place for me to tap into a professional and personal network that eventually led to a job I love with people I both respect and enjoy. I am forever grateful.”

Sieve concluded with: “The fact that so many of my classmates are, or have been, partners at Kirkland is a testament to the quality of our school. The school prepares its students for the professional challenges they may face, and it helps create opportunities. I will forever be grateful for my time there.” 

 

Do you have a large cohort of Law School alumni from your class at your firm? Tell us about it! Contact Ann Fruland, Assistant Director of Development Communications, at afruland@uchicago.edu or 773.702.8175.