Lives Joined at Marshall Wythe: Jeffrey and Maribeth Lowe

by Jaime Welch-Donahue, Blog post reproduced with permission of the Communications Office.

If they had to guess, they would say that they probably met each other for the first time in the Law School’s lobby. As they prepare to celebrate their twenty- fifth wedding anniversary, Jeffrey Lowe ’89 and Mary (Maribeth) Baroody Lowe ’91 appreciate the special role Marshall-Wythe has played in their lives.

Jeffrey and Maribeth in 1991

Jeffrey grew up in Wantagh, New York, on the south shore of Long Island; Maribeth in Alexandria, Virginia. She worked for a Big 8 public accounting firm in Washington, D.C., after graduating from the University of Virginia. Conversations with her colleagues there, who were in the government contracts litigation support group, sparked her decision to study law. Jeffrey knew at an early age that he wanted to be a lawyer, and started law school the fall after he graduated from Cornell University. They met in the lobby when she was a first- year student, and he, a third-year.

“We both had a love of the Law School from the start,” says Maribeth. Both appreciate the education they received at William & Mary, and recall the friendly, supportive and collegial spirit among their classmates.

When she was a summer associate and, later, a young lawyer, it was clear to Maribeth that employers regarded the school highly for the preparation it provided students. “The Law School worked hard to give students the skills needed to perform in the workplace. That is a huge asset to the Law School, and it’s wonderful for the students and for the legal community,” she says.

A story begun at William & Mary

The Lowe Family

The family settled in Maribeth’s hometown of Alexandria and grew to include two children: a son, now a junior at Caltech, and a daughter, who recently began her freshman year at Northwestern.

Jeffrey is the Global Practice Leader of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s Law Firm Practice Group. He also serves as Managing Partner of their Washington, D.C., office, which he established in 2003, and where he leads the office’s Partner Practice Group. He previously was a partner in the Corporate & Securities Group at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). Maribeth specialized in government contracts law at several D.C.-area firms, most recently at Crowell & Moring. She retired from practicing law as the couple raised their children and also helped to care for aging parents. Both have been very involved with The Campagna Center, with Maribeth serving on its Board of Directors. The not-for-profit organization provides before- and after- school programs for at-risk children in the Alexandria community, and also offers a variety of other programs to support children and families.

The Lowes remain in close touch with many of the friends they made during law school and with the school itself. Jeffrey is a trustee of the Law School Foundation and also has served as chair or co-chair of his 15th, 20th, and 25th reunions.

“We feel the stewardship of the school has been incredible, in particular during Dean Reveley’s and Dean Douglas’s tenures,” says Jeffrey. The couple has made gifts to the Annual Fund because they recognize that there are a number of challenges every law school faces. “We know the Dean and the Law School appreciate the flexibility to use the funds as they see fit to address those challenges,” he says, “and to remain nimble in a very competitive environment.”

Maribeth says it is evident that administrators and faculty take a personal interest in students, both while they are at Marshall-Wythe and after they graduate. “They get to know people as individuals and are very interested in continuing those interactions, those relationships, even into the alumni years,” she says. “I think that says a lot about the personality of the school and the culture that exists while you are there and afterwards.”

While the lobby brings back happy memories for the couple, they are aware that another locale played an even more important role in bringing them together: the Office of Admission. The story of their family began with acceptance letters from Associate Dean of Admission
Faye Shealy.

“If she hadn’t let both of us in, Maribeth and I never would have met,” Jeffrey says.

A Match Made in Torts Class: Alex and Elspeth’s Story

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

In first-year Torts class, students learn about duty, breach, and causation through cases about spontaneously combusting haystacks, accidentally igniting fireworks, and collisions of every type of vehicle imaginable. In a happy accident, you could say that Alex and Elspeth’s worlds collided when they sat down beside each other the first day. And after hearing their story, any reasonable person would know that they were meant to be together.

visser1

On that first day of Torts class, Elspeth sat on the end of the row, and Alex took the empty seat between her and a member of his Legal Practice Section. Elspeth remembers that day especially well, because when they introduced themselves, Alex asked her how to spell her name, and wrote it down. She was impressed by how determined Alex was to pronounce her unique name correctly; he was the first person to ever ask her how to spell it. During the semester, the two talked casually before and after class. One conversation revealed their shared interest in Celtic music, and Elspeth offered recommendations of songs for Alex to listen to.

Fall semester finals came and went, but when Spring semester started, they sadly didn’t have any classes together. After not seeing each other for several months, Alex got the surprise of his life: in his hanging folder, he found a CD of Celtic music that Elspeth had made for him.  Alex was thrilled to know that his sweet classmate from Torts class was still thinking of him. He didn’t have Elspeth’s phone number, so Alex decided to send her an email to thank her. Now it was Elspeth’s turn to be surprised! The two were so glad to get back in touch, and they spent their 1L summer getting to know each other by exchanging emails every couple days. When they came back in the fall, Alex and Elspeth were eager to see each other in person. The first time they met up, the pair got coffee and talked for six hours, not realizing until the end how much time had gone by. They discussed their mutual interests in Celtic music, genealogy, and history, and discovered their common faith as Christians. A few days later, they were officially a couple.

visser weddingAlex and Elspeth fell for each other quickly; they were both certain that they were meant for each other. So on April 6th, 2016, Elspeth’s birthday, Alex asked Elspeth for her hand in marriage. Neither one of them ever expected to get married in law school, but they were so happy to be together they couldn’t wait. The pair set the wedding date for December 17, and spent their 3L fall semester in a whirlwind of classes and cake tastings, cold calls and coordinating. They chose to get married in the historic Wren Chapel on main campus. It was a perfect fit: it encompassed the history that they both so loved, and it paid tribute to the place that brought them together.

On the special day, guests were welcomed to the chapel by the sound of bagpipes, played by the Law School’s own Raymond Bilter. Friends and family filled the chapel as the happy couple said their vows. Elspeth looked beautiful in her long-sleeved, lace gown, and Alex was dapper in his tails. A reception followed at the Alumni House, where the Bride and Groom made their grand entrance to the Star Wars Theme, played by a string quartet.

After a honeymoon in Scotland, Alex and Elspeth returned for their final semester of law school; this time as husband and wife. They are making sure to keep a good work-life balance. They do their readings and hold each other accountable, but they also take time to share meals and watch their favorite movies. They also make music together in their Celtic Band, the Highland Rogues. After graduation, the pair will move to North Carolina, where Elspeth plans to pursue opportunities in Elder Law or Mediation, and where Alex will work as a Prosecutor.

As Alex and Elspeth have found during their time in law school, it’s important to love what you’re learning. But it’s a special gift when you get to love someone you are learning with. As Alex so aptly put it: “William & Mary: It’s a great place to meet friends – or your future spouse!”

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