Legally Bound: Columbia Law Couples

For Valentine’s Day, meet four alumni couples who share their unique stories of love, law, and marriage.

2024 four columbia law couples for Valentines Day
Micha Nandaraj Gallo ’18 and R. David Gallo ’14
Couple on their wedding day
Micha Nandaraj Gallo and Dave Gallo took turns attending Columbia Law and were married a few weeks before Micha started classes.

Micha Nandaraj Gallo ’18 and David Gallo ’14 took turns attending Columbia Law School. The couple met in an intensive Arabic language course one summer as undergraduates at the University of Florida. “We spent multiple hours in class together every single day,” says Dave. “We became friends, and then in the fall semester, we started studying together and eventually began dating.”

Dave, who spent a few years before college as a singer-songwriter, found Micha “quiet, studious, and mysterious,” he says. “She was very unlike the musicians I was hanging out with.” For her part, Micha says: “I was, naturally, attracted to the older musician in my class.”

While Dave always thought he would go to law school one day, Micha was a pre-med student when they met. “And then, a typical story, I did poorly in organic chemistry and realized I needed a new career path,” she says.

Together, they decided to take a practice LSAT that Kaplan was offering. “Dave did extremely well, and, in fact, they offered him a job teaching the LSAT even before he took it,” says Micha. 

Wedding ceremony in pretty church
Micha and Dave at their wedding in Santa Barbara, California.

Micha was a senior in college when Dave was a 1L, and she joined him in New York as soon as she graduated. They lived in Columbia housing, which afforded her the ability to work at an elementary school in the South Bronx under the auspices of City Year. She then spent two years working as a paralegal at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to make sure the law was really right for her.

A few weeks before Micha began law school in 2015, they were married in Santa Barbara, California, where Dave’s father was living. “It’s such an awesome place to have a wedding,” she says. “There are all these great activities to do with your guests. We went to wine country one day and did beach stuff the next. And the wedding was incredible—a perfect day.”

Man holding baby and woman in graduation gown and cap
Dave and Micha with their first daughter, Maddie, at Micha's graduation.

In the fall of her 3L year, 10 days before finals, Micha gave birth to their first daughter, Maddie, who is now 6. (Their other daughter, Layla, is 3.) “It was not easy, but it felt seamless to some degree,” she says. “Columbia has pumping rooms, and I was able to load up my schedule in the spring, so I had classes two days a week. And I got to walk across the stage at graduation with Maddie. I have nothing but complimentary things to say about how supportive everyone at Columbia was.”

Now living in Atlanta, Micha is an associate at King & Spalding, and Dave is of counsel at Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs. “We’re both litigators, though we do different types of litigation,” says Dave. “The only downside of being married to another lawyer is that the law can be very unforgiving about schedules, and ours can be chaotic.”


Kai Singer Falkenberg ’99 and Chris Falkenberg ’98
Couple in former wedding attire
Chris and Kai Falkenberg were married at Cipriani 42nd in New York.

The story of how Kai Falkenberg ’99 and Christopher Falkenberg ’98 started dating is the stuff of Hollywood rom-coms. In the fall of 1996, they noticed each other while lying on adjacent cots at a blood drive in Jerome Greene Annex. Kai was reading The New York Times but couldn’t turn the page with her immobilized arm, so she asked Chris if he could help her. “I took the newspaper and looked for an appropriate story to read to her that would represent my point of view, which is generally more conservative than that of most of the faculty at the Law School,” he says.

Over the next year, they ran into each other in the library and around campus, but it wasn’t until the fall of 1997 that they discovered they were both runners and training for the New York City Marathon. “I asked him if he wanted to go on a training run, but he said he wasn’t interested,” Kai recalls. “I asked him why, and he said something like, ‘I’m trying to get a certain time, and I’m not sure you would be at the same pace.’”

“I was very dismissive,” says Chris.

Kai eventually persuaded him to go on a run. “That was when Chris learned I’d been on the track team in college,” she says. “It turned out I wasn’t too slow.” Still, Chris did not want to run with her in the race for fear she would slow him down. On marathon day, when Kai reached the chute at the end of the race where runners are given metalized blankets and water, she turned around and saw Chris a few paces behind her.

“She beat me by one minute!” he says. “And that’s how we started dating.”

Besides both being runners, Kai and Chris shared an interest in government: He had worked for the U.S. Secret Service before law school, and Kai had majored in government at Dartmouth. 

Woman in black top with arm around man in blue shirt
Kai and Chris in 1998.

After graduating, they each had clerkships: Chris served on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York while Kai was a 3L; she clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit while Chris launched his career at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. “There was a lot of time spent on Amtrak for a year,” says Chris.

They were married in 2000 at Cipriani 42nd Street, located in the ornate Bowery Savings Bank Building across from Grand Central Terminal. “Part of the deal was that you could spend the night in the bank president’s office that had been converted into a little hotel room,” says Chris. “We spent our first night as husband and wife all alone in this big building.”

After working in Big Law for a few years, Chris founded Insite Risk Management, a fully integrated digital and physical security services firm. Kai also started in Big Law (at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz) and moved on to a career in media; she has held positions at Forbes and G/O Media, and she served as first deputy commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in the Bill de Blasio administration. She recently joined Guardian U.S., the online U.S. version of the British newspaper, as general counsel and began her 10th year as a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia Law, teaching a seminar on the regulation of social media that, she says, was the first of its kind in the nation.

Does the couple, who have a 17-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter, talk about their work at home? “All the time!” says Kai. “We enjoy what we do, and there are lots of interesting stories in our lines of work, so we freely discuss it. We take full advantage of spousal privilege.”

Mary Sandoval ’77 and Carlos A. Rodriguez-Vidal ’82
Couple kissing at their formal wedding
Carlos Rodriguez-Vidal and Mary Sandoval at their wedding at Mission San José in San Antonio.

While Mary Sandoval ’77 was a student at the Law School, she never attended Law Revue, the annual student show that lampoons faculty and law school life. “I considered the Revue to be somewhat of a disrespectful way for students to vent about serious issues,” she says. But in 1981, while working for the ACLU, she was persuaded by Carolyn Fuentes ’77, a childhood friend from San Antonio, to attend the Revue because it was being directed by another San Antonian, Benita K. (“BK”) Munguia ’81.

During one skit, Mary couldn’t take her eyes off of Carlos A. Rodríguez-Vidal ’82, who had been persuaded to appear in it by BK; he was playing Juan Valdez, the fictional farmer in television commercials for the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia. Mary, who is a first-generation Mexican American, recalls that “Carolyn and I speculated as to whether Carlos was Mexican. … We both concluded he was terribly handsome.”

At the after-party, Carolyn chatted up Carlos (who happens to be Puerto Rican) and then steered him to Mary, who was talking with a favorite professor, Vivian O. Berger. “He interrupted our conversation and asked forgiveness for not being Mexican,” says Mary. They talked, flirted, and danced for hours, parting ways around 4 a.m. at the Broadway and 96th Street subway station. “I gave him my business card but did not think anything would come of it.”

To Mary’s surprise, Carlos called and asked her out. “Every date was a confirmation of how much we had in common,” says Carlos. While they were dating, Mary helped Carlos with his classwork on one occasion. “A few days before graduation, he fell asleep in my apartment, so I typed one of his papers for him,” she says. “I wouldn’t do it today!” (Carlos says he has learned to type much faster since then.)

When they got engaged, Carlos had accepted a job in San Juan at Goldman Antonetti & Córdova (co-founded by Max Goldman ’40), where he is now the managing member. Mary agreed to move with him to Puerto Rico.

Woman in dress and man in graduation robe
Mary and Carlos at his graduation from Columbia Law School.

But first, they were married in San Antonio. “I didn’t want to do anything extraordinary,” says Mary. Carlos, however, had researched venues and wanted the wedding for about 40 friends and family to be held at the historic Mission San José, a World Heritage Site. “We had beer and Mexican food, and everyone had a good time,” says Mary. Adds Carlos: “I knew that for my father we had to have a bottle of Scotch. We also had champagne and mariachis.”

While Carlos became a litigator, Mary could not find a position like the ones she had in New York with the ACLU and The Legal Aid Society. So she went to work for the top personal injury lawyer in Puerto Rico who also did a lot of prisoners’ rights litigation and eventually built a solo practice focused on federal white-collar and narcotics cases.

Carlos and Mary always return to San Antonio for Christmas and New Years with their daughter, Hortensia, who has a dual master’s degree in public policy and international studies and works at Acacia Center for Justice. A few years ago, the couple bought a second home in San Antonio, where their local close friends include Carolyn (who not only introduced them but also was Mary’s maid of honor) and her husband, Farley Katz ’77. 

They see other Law School friends at Reunion, which they always attend. “Our classes are five years apart, so our reunions happen at the same time,” says Carlos. “It’s very convenient.

Kara Diamond ’15 and Andrew Stahl ’15
Man and woman in formal wedding attire
Andrew Stahl and Kara Diamond were married in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Although Kara Diamond ’15 and Andrew Stahl ’15 both worked in Washington, D.C., before matriculating at Columbia Law School, they had quite different résumés and professional ambitions. Kara had spent three years as a senior accountant at Ernst & Young, where her clients were private equity funds, and she knew she wanted to pursue a career in corporate law. “More specifically, I wanted to do investment fund work,” says Kara, who is now vice president, legal and compliance, at Blackstone. 

Andrew had spent two years working on the unsuccessful reelection campaign of a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, Patrick Murphy, for whom he had interned during college. “I was hoping I would be hired as a legislative assistant after the election,” says Andrew, who subsequently worked on Murphy’s campaign for Pennsylvania attorney general. “Unfortunately, we lost that election too, and so at that point, I’d had a couple of setbacks in my political career, and I decided to apply to law school.”

Kara and Andrew first met at a happy hour during orientation and kept their eyes on one another during the fall semester. In the spring, at the Public Interest Law Foundation’s fundraising auction, they reconnected. “Before we knew it, the event was over, and they were kicking us out of the space,” says Andrew. “Then we went to a bar with a group of people, but we basically continued to talk only to each other for the rest of the night.” By the time they went to the Barrister’s Ball together a month later, they were officially dating. 

During their 2L and 3L years, each became the other’s law school support system. “We pretty quickly realized that we had somebody to confide in when we were stressed or anxious about something—like going through the Early Interview Program for summer jobs,” says Andrew. “It felt monumental at times, and being there for each other made a big difference.”

After graduation, they continued to pursue different paths. Andrew moved to Philadelphia to clerk for Judge Anita B. Brody ’58 on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Judge Jane R. Roth on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Meanwhile, Kara was working as an associate at Ropes & Gray in New York. “We spent a lot of time on trains during those two years,” says Kara.

They were married in Kara’s hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, in January 2020. “It was right before COVID, and just before people began to wonder if they should be going to large gatherings,” says Andrew, who is now as associate at Krieger Lewin. “On the bright side, our friends have very fond memories of our wedding because it was the last big social event they went to before the world shut down.”

Couple in formal wedding attire with friends
Kara and Andrew at their wedding with friends from the Class of 2015, including (left to right) Esi Agbemenu, Elizabeth Cruikshank, Eileen Kuo, Phil DiSanto, Jeremy Girton, Patrick Salvo, Soren Kreider, Martine Seiden Agatston, and Adam Agatston.