Nina Sumers, CW’74, L’77, met her husband Alan Myers, L’75, in a reading room in Biddle library the day she started law school. “I was confused by the first case in the homework assignment because it referred to the same two people in six different ways. appellant, appellee, petitioner, respondent, plaintiff, defendant...” says Nina. Alan, then a 3L, saw her looking puzzled and offered to help her.
Some months later, she recognized him as they sat across from each other at a table in the library. They began to chat in whispers and he mentioned that for dinner he had made ground meat with salad dressing. The unsavory image of the mismatched ingredients triggered a laughing fit.
“We couldn’t stop laughing. We had to leave the library,” says Nina.
After reconnecting in the library, they began studying together regularly and eventually dating. “I think I endeared myself to her,” jokes Alan, “by buying her cups of hot chocolate from the vending machine in the law school basement.”
Their relationship benefited both their law school careers. Nina adopted Alan’s diligent study habits, and Alan found that their relationship alleviated a lot of the pressure of law school. His third year grades, he said, were by far his best.
After graduation in 1975 Alan moved to New York to be an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP. On weekends, either Nina would come to New York and they would work together in what was then the tiny Skadden library, or Alan would visit in Philadelphia.
Following a semester of weekend visiting, they became engaged in February of Nina’s second year, and were married that May when Nina was 24 and Alan just shy of 25. Nina enrolled at Columbia University for third year classes but still received her law degree from Penn. “Although some of my oldest friends date from my year at Columbia, I really missed the warm, congenial atmosphere at Penn,” says Nina.
After graduating in 1977, Nina began to practice estate planning and administration at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in Manhattan. Three and a half years later their first son was born, followed by another son in 1984 and a daughter in 1987. As the family grew, Nina changed firms so that she could work first four and then three days a week to have more time with her children.
“Alan always worked long and unpredictable hours and I felt that one of us needed to be more consistently available for our children,” Nina explains. “I loved being there when they came home from school, hearing about their days and having dinner with them.”
In 1983, Alan became a partner at Skadden, with a practice in mergers and acquisitions. Today, he is still with the firm where he works on a wide range of domestic and international corporate deals.
Although Nina stopped working after 18 years with four different firms, the law is still a part of her life. She just finished a five-year term as president of the board of her co-operative apartment building, where she found her legal background to be invaluable. She serves as a board member of a nonprofit organization, studies Spanish and finds time to play a lot of tennis.
Now, in their 33rd year together, Alan and Nina are reliving their law school experience through their son Steven, currently a 3L at Penn. Steven and his girlfriend, a 1L at New York University, often use Nina and Alan’s apartment on the weekends. “Seeing papers and books spread out all over the dining room table reminds me of when Nina and I used to study together. The only difference is the laptops,” notes Alan. And, hopefully, tastier dinners.