For Carolyn Cochran Clark ’68 and L. David Clark Jr. ’68, the seating chart in their 1966 commercial transactions class proved to be prescient. Professor Robert Braucher’s alphabetical arrangement placed the two students next to each other. They remain attached to this day.
“It’s like having a two-person study group that continues over the years,” quips David, a partner at Salans, Hertzfeld, Heilbronn, Christy & Viener in New York, where he concentrates in trusts and estates matters.
His wife, Carolyn–the first woman partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and the first woman president of the Harvard Law School Association–works in the same practice area, with an emphasis on creating and advising charitable organizations. The Clarks frequently discuss the general nature of their work while avoiding matters involving specific clients.
“There’s actually a lot of overlap,” Carolyn says of the couple’s professional pursuits. “We are in the same field, experiencing the same trends.”
Some of those trends have made estate planning a particularly rewarding experience, especially today as more people become involved in philanthropy and new forms of charitable giving. “It gets you involved with people’s best sides,” Carolyn says. “One of my clients called me a ‘dream maker’ for helping her make her dream for a better world come true.”
While they have occasionally worked with the same clients, the Clarks agree that their favorite collaboration has been coteaching seminars on estate planning at HLS. In both 1998 and 2000, the Clarks returned to Cambridge for Law School reunions and led the seminars for the benefit of other alumni.
In addition to staying in touch with Law School friends, the Clarks enjoy frequent forays into Cambridge. They have found that New York, where they have lived for the past three decades, is a very rewarding and exciting home. David explains that in 1968, midsize cities were less hospitable to female attorneys and professional couples. “New York is a city big enough to handle married practitioners,” he says.
Since moving to New York, the Clarks have worked with a wide range of clients, including the School of American Ballet, Rockefeller University, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They’ve also raised two sons, Gregory and Timothy, both in their early 20s and beginning to think about their own professional aspirations.
While the circumstance of their meeting remains a defining memory of their time at HLS, both are quick to point out the intellectual gains they made at the School.
“We were trained to take a messy set of pickup sticks and straighten them out,” David says in referring to his legal education. And while Carolyn agrees that the most valuable result of her legal training has been the ability to problem-solve and analyze, she also emphasizes that HLS “provided us with a network of lifelong friends and colleagues.”