Like many graduates of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Shannon Sperry and Paul Goodrich Jr. left law school with a solid foundation to embark upon legal careers that today have led them to both hold challenging and rewarding jobs in the Seattle area.
But the two also found something else in between cramming for finals and juggling course loads: Each other. The couple met in law school and eventually married. They’ve supported each other while growing successful (and demanding careers) —and weathering the ups and downs of building a life while practicing the law.
The couple attended law school from 1972-1975 and recently spoke to the law school about their career paths, memories of being law students and where they are at today in a Q&A.
What made you interested in going to law school?
SS: I took debate in high school and decided I wanted to debate for the rest of my life. Of course the only way you do that is to become a lawyer.
PG: My older brother was practicing law and loved it, so I decided to try law school. I had just gotten out of the Navy and wanted to live in the west.
What do you do today?
SS: I am a partner at Lasher Holzapfel Sperry & Ebberson, a Seattle law firm. I have been here for 42 years. I practice general business law with a real estate emphasis. I came out of law school thinking I wanted to work for the EPA, EEOC or NLRB. Thank goodness they were not hiring. I became a business lawyer because at the time I started, the Canadians were coming into Seattle and buying everything. There was a lot of real estate work to do.
PG: I am a founder and managing director of Madrona Venture Group, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage technology companies. We have about $1.5 billion under management and have invested in over a hundred early stage companies.
You both met in law school. What has it been like navigating careers in the law together?
SS: It helped to understand the pressures on the other person. Trying to make partner and working every Saturday was something we could do together. After about 10 years, my husband took a sabbatical and decided not to go back to law, but rather to become a venture capitalist. He helped start the leading technology venture capital firm in Seattle. He was able to do this because I had a steady good paying job and so he had the flexibility to take a risk.
PG: Shannon said it well. When we came to Seattle we both practiced law; I was at Perkins Coie, the largest law firm in Seattle, and Shannon helped start the firm she is in. We didn’t talk shop at home and our practices didn’t overlap. Shannon has been selected as a Super Lawyer more times than I count (and I never was) (Jokes). After 11 years practicing law, I resigned my partnership and made the transition to venture capital. Had it not been for her being a partner in a successful law firm, I am not sure I would have left the law.
What is one memorable experience from law school that will always stay with you?
PG: Shannon won the book award in Corporations (and I never got one). (Jokes). But my fondest memory from law school is of meeting Shannon.
Outside of work, tell us about something interesting that you like to do?
SS: We both love opera. Paul is an opera trustee and specifically helps out with the technology committee. We also love to hike and travel and have been to some exotic and fun places. We just got back from hiking to Sperry Chalet and Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park. (A must-do hike for anyone that loves hiking!) We have four children (two lawyers) and three grandchildren (so far) and we love to spend time with them. Finally, we are both addicted to reading good books.
We live on a lake in Seattle and love to go out kayaking in the mornings to watch eagles and blue herons. We then have a 30-minute commute into the city. We are blessed and a lot of our blessings can be traced to our education at the University of Utah.